No curfew for now

Leandrea Louw
The Covid-19 induced curfew has not been re-introduced by government.

"This time of the year, many Namibians will travel from different parts of the country to visit friends and family or to spend the holiday season at their preferred holiday destinations. Given the vastness of the country, many travelers will be compelled to spend hours and overnight in buses, minibuses and private vehicles at Traffic Control Points if the curfew is re-introduced," explained the minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula.

The minister added that compelling passengers to spend time in confined spaces as stated, will create fertile ground for new infections and will thus be self-defeating as a control measure to curb and suppress the spread of new infections.

"It would also create significant inconvenience with undesirable public backlash and it was therefore decided that, given the fairly low statistics on severe Covid-19 cases as well as hospitalizations, it would not be prudent to introduce the curfew at this time."

The minister also annouced that public transport measures remain unchanged with emphasis being placed on the enforcement of and compliance with public health measures for the duration of a journey when using public transport vehicles.

" We took into account that many Namibians will travel and given the vastness of the country, it is imperative to ensure unhindered flow of the different modes of the public transport system. The ministry will avail 1 million disposable face masks to the ministry of works and transport for distribution to travelers in public transport vehicles during the holiday season.”

The use of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Tests is also retained without change. Currently, persons arriving in Namibia should present a PCR test that is not older than seven days. In light of the circulating omicron variant and out of abundance of caution, the public health measure related to the validity of PCR test as a requirement for entry into Namibia is amended. The minister announced that the validity of PCR Covid-19 test results is reduced to 72 hours from time of the collection of the specimen to the time the individual arrives in Namibia. Travelers (Namibians and Non-Namibians) who arrive with PCR test results that are older than 72 hours and are not in possession of a de-isolation certificate, will be subjected to a PCR test at own cost at the port of entry and will be quarantined at own cost. Such traveler will be released from quarantine if the PCR results are negative.

"Namibians arriving with positive PCR results, where such traveler has not completed isolation or does not present a de-isolation certificate, such traveler will be subjected to quarantine at own cost or to supervised home quarantine provided that the traveler has obtained approval for such supervised home quarantine. Some countries have made it a requirement that all persons arriving in their jurisdiction are subject to a Polymerase Chain Reaction Test in order to determine the Covid-19 infection status of such persons," the minister said.

Given the circulating omicron variant which is highly transmissible, random Covid-19 PCR testing will be conducted on persons permitted entry into Namibia at Points of Entry. Genome sequencing will be carried out on samples that tested positive for Covid-19. Namibian citizens and permit holders may enter the country with or without 72-hour PCR test. Those who arrive without a negative PCR test results will be subjected to quarantine at own cost or to supervised home quarantine provided that the traveler has obtained approval for such supervised home quarantine. “The measures are aimed at suppressing the importation of new variants into the country. They will also enable the ministry to collect important epidemiological data on the omicron and other variants,” Shangula concluded.