Emergency medical facility for Walvis Bay

Tackling the Coronavirus

26 March 2020 | Health

Knowledge Iipinge; Councillor; “We are dealing with a pandemic, there is no time for long bureaucratic channels.”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

The ground-breaking ceremony of a 150-bed emergency medical isolation facility to be constructed that will cater specifically for Covid-19 cases, took place in Walvis Bay earlier today (Thursday).

The facility will house beds, ablution facilities, staff accommodation, a kitchen and a mortuary. It will not be classified as private or state, and will simply serve to isolate Covid-19 patients.

Walvis Bay urban constituency councillor Knowledge Iipinge said that there is no time to discern between private or state, since the country is dealing with a pandemic.

“Both private and state are serving on the disaster risk management committee. We are all working together as a community for our community.”

The idea is to have the facility up and running within three weeks.

“The reason it will take three weeks, is due to the building of an oxygen and suction plant, which was already started two days ago. The ordering of the containers, and the ground works have also started already.”

Iipinge encouraged those in the region that suspect that they may have the virus, to call the toll free number, from where they will be advised on what to do next.

“Only when you are seen as a potential risk, will the ministry send an ambulance to pick you up and bring you to the isolation facility. We don’t encourage people to come to the facility themselves.”

Chief executive of Welwitschia Hospital Matthias Braune, said that the facility is a step further in relation to the Corona Care Campaign launched last week.

“It is an initiative to get the community involved and to acquire the necessary funding to assist our state hospitals in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. According to our calculations, we need to be ready to cater for about 28 000 people in need of oxygen over a period of time. This calculation was done in collaboration with the University of Bern in Lausanne, Switzerland, as well as the Namibian lung clinic in Walvis Bay. If we take into account Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Arandis, Henties Bay, these are the numbers we need to prepare for.”

Braune said that the response to the campaign was overwhelming and labelled the supply of oxygen and suction plant that needs to be created as limiting factors.

The facility will be housed in containers.

“We have found a company that is busy with the construction. One such container with the oxygen and suction plant can provide good quality oxygen to 75 patients. We have ordered two of those, giving us the capacity to assist 150 patients.”

The Walvis Bay State Hospital will also be able to use the facilities after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The initial idea to equip the Walvis Bay State Hospital with a 20-bed capacity ward was not feasible when the numbers were looked over. We are getting ready for bigger numbers, but hopefully it doesn’t happen. We just want to be ready,” Braune said.
Johny Doeseb, the chairperson of the NCCI, explained that the business community has mobilized resources to assist with the construction of the facility.

“Businesses have been very keen to donate money, material and labour to this cause. This facility is a symbol of hope to our local community. We cannot afford to lose one life to this virus in Walvis Bay. The coronavirus does not see colour, class and it does not differentiate between rich and poor. The health of our people is more important. We know what it can do to our economy, but let us save lives and worry about our economy thereafter.

“Stay safe and take care of yourself. If you do not move, the virus will not move. Hygiene is of utmost importance.”

A fund will also be established which will be an add-on to the already existing Corona Care campaign.

Charles Neidel, control administrative officer of the Walvis Bay urban constituency, said that they are calling on the community to contribute N$30 each.

“The funds will be used to buy sanitizers and will also serve as a kick-start fund for small businesses, after the lockdown period has concluded.”

The Walvis Bay urban constituency kick-started the fund with N$130 000, allocated from the Constituency Development Fund.
The quarantine facility will cost roughly N$6 million.

Iipinge continued: “We’ve been engaging stakeholders and the business fraternity to assist in the set-up of this facility. Some people have already contributed equipment and their skills, which will definitely have an impact on the costs of the facility. We are in the process of sourcing money.”

Additionally, two medical aircraft have been secured which will be on standby to assist in transporting staff or medical supplies.

“Keep on washing your hands and practice proper hygiene. This facility will be open to everyone within our region. As the disaster risk management committee, we have also developed a response plan, which will be shared to the various stakeholders.”

Ipinge said that in this time of dealing with a pandemic, there is no time for long bureaucratic channels to be followed.

“Our responsibility is with the community. That’s why I am not worried about money or where it is coming from. My worry is whether my community is taken care of in case an outbreak happens.”

Members of the public can contribute in the form of their skills, volunteering or financially.

Interested people can get in contact via email at [email protected] or make donations to the campaign. Bank details are First National Bank, account number 622 71 71 7286, Walvis Bay, branch code 282 172.

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