Covid-19 regulations relaxed

Pandemic still among us

22 October 2020 | Health

Dr Kalumbi Shangula; Health minister; “We will develop warning indicators to allow for early recognition of a possible second wave…”

A number of new regulations have been put in place to further curb the spread of Covid-19 in Namibia.

The minister of health and social services Dr Kalumbi Shangula said that the new measures will be in force until 30 November 2020 adding that government agencies will continuously monitor the situation in order to respond speedily, should the situation demand.

The national Covid-19 monitoring team will also continue to compile and submit weekly reports to policy makers to allow for prompt action if needed.

Shangula explained that Namibia has done away with the requirement for quarantine of travellers who present negative PCR Covid-19 test results that are not older than 72 hours.

“Travellers will be required to observe the Infection Prevention and Control Protocols such as physical distancing, hand washing and sanitizing, mandatory wearing of a mask in public spaces, and avoidance of unnecessary public gatherings.”

The minister said that any person who develops symptoms consistent with Covid-19 after arrival in Namibia, will be required to undergo a Covid-19 test.

“In line with our contact tracing protocols, any person who is identified as a contact of a positive Covid-19 case, will be placed in a quarantine facility or in supervised home quarantine for seven days. Such a person will also be tested for Covid-19. This includes travellers who may have arrived in the country for different reasons.”

Special arrangements will be implemented for the quarantine of healthcare workers in line with the risk categorisation and risk stratification framework.

Shangula said that the country is currently exploring the use of rapid diagnostic capabilities to identify the sources of infection, to ensure prompt contact tracing and isolation of positive cases.

This week Cabinet approved the implementation of a new approach to the Covid-19 response in the post-state of emergency dispensation. Shangula said this approach is designed to ensure a more coordinated manner to evaluate and consider appropriate stances in combating Covid-19.

Shangula emphasised that as the borders open, it is important to strengthen port health services and management as part of the new approach to Covid-19 response.

“We will deploy additional fulltime port health officers at targeted ports of entry, especially those with the highest traffic. We are also pursuing electronic/computerized platforms for the management of arriving passengers and their tracking from ports of entry. The electronic platforms being considered include PanaBios in conjunction with the African Union and MyPass.”

Vaccine

The minister said in terms of a Covid-19 vaccine, interactions are ongoing with the COVAX Facility to ensure that Namibians will have access to a safe vaccine when it comes out.

“Close monitoring and tracking of the global and local Covid-19 pandemic are critical to protect the investments made in the last 6 to 7 months. As a country, we will develop early warning indicators to allow for early detection and recognition of a possible second wave.”

These indicators include a high positivity ratio in specific geographic areas, and increase in hospitalisations due to respiratory-related conditions.

The continuous monitoring of government’s anti-Covid-19 strategies which have been implemented by different state agencies, will look at variables such as morbidities or mortalities, loss of jobs, closure of businesses/bankruptcy, school drop-out rates, demand on social safety nets, and expenditure on Covid-19 related health services.

This will allow government to gauge the full impact of Covid-19 on society.

Shangula reiterated that although restrictions have been relaxed further, the public must remain mindful that the pandemic is still in our midst.

“We must remain alert and encourage each other to comply with the measures. Organisers of public gatherings should continue to employ the necessary measures to prevent, suppress further spread of the virus and ensure that such events do not turn into super-spreaders. This is particularly vital in this new dispensation where the Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed.”

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