If lockdown is extended, Erongo will go to court

‘Nothing prepared’

20 June 2020 | Health

Swakopmund • [email protected]

A private initiative by the coastal resident Thersius Biermann is gaining momentum. After rounding up the coastal business sector, Biermann wrote a letter calling on government to ease the severe lockdown (level 1) that applies to the Erongo region because it is causing serious financial damage to companies.

The attorney general responded to the official letter on Tuesday.

"As expected, government will not admit a mistake," Biermann told this newspaper yesterday. If lockdown level 1, which ends at midnight on Monday, is extended, an urgent request against the measure will be submitted to the high court.

Ministry has failed

Biermann is cautiously optimistic about a victory in court. He cites the reason for this as a meeting with staff from the health ministry and representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), who met in Walvis Bay this week.

The health ministry admitted that during the original lockdown, it wasted time and failed to build the necessary infrastructure to fight a possible Covid-19 pandemic in Walvis Bay.

“That's completely true,” an anonymous source said yesterday. The source refers to an example of the construction of a hospital in Walvis Bay, which should have been completed in April. The source was involved in this project.

“After the initiative started, the private sector immediately pledged support and raised more than N$500 000. The necessary earthmoving work was also carried out immediately,” the source said. The construction site has been standing idle since April. The reason: To date, the ministry of health has not given written approval. "All donors have now lost interest," said the source.

Furthermore, "Nothing was prepared. When the first Covid-19 patient was admitted to the isolation facility at the Walvis Bay State Hospital, all the bulbs and water geysers were defective.”

Virus in Swakopmund

Meanwhile, residents of the Erongo region fear an extension of the lockdown after several non-travel related cases of Covid-19 were reported in Walvis Bay.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula also confirmed the first case of local infection in Swakopmund.

The 55-year-old woman was tested for the virus after complaining of fever and pain.


Uncontrollable disaster

Meanwhile, pressure on government from the business community in the Erongo region is increasing, demanding that the strict lockdown be relaxed.

“It has been proven worldwide that a lockdown neither prevents the spread of Covid-19, nor does the development of the economy stop the spread,” said Walvis Bay resident Andreas Maischatz.

He is the owner of the Casa Mia Hotel that has been badly affected by the lockdown in the harbour town which has now lasted more than 90 days, "adding unemployment, poverty, hunger, crime and unrest to it will result in an uncontrollable disaster," he said.

"We do not understand why Omaruru is part of the lockdown," said Heinz Klittich of the local Kashana restaurant, referring to the strict regulations from which they were not spared.

“We are desperate to keep our staff and not retrench anyone, but we can't keep going for long," he added. Klittich also fears that the numerous layoffs in the region would lead to a drastic increase in social problems.

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