President cancels independence celebrations

Covid-19 confirmed

15 March 2020 | Health

Walvis Bay • [email protected]


At a press briefing at State House on Saturday, President Geingob said that his swearing-in ceremony would still take place, in spite of the independence celebrations being called off.

He added that the financial outlay for the celebrations would be diverted to fight against the coronavirus.

Geingob also announced that inbound and outbound travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany was suspended with immediate effect for a period of 30 days.

“All travelling by government officials, state-owned enterprises and all big gatherings are suspended for a period of 30 days. A two-week lock down on Windhoek Gymnasium is being introduced with immediate effect. Additional measures will be communicated in due course,” the president said.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said at the media conference in the capital that Windhoek Gymnasium private school has been placed on lockdown for two weeks because one of the teachers had been in contact with the couple that had tested positive for the coronavirus in Namibia.

“Pupils, teachers and other staff will be required to self-quarantine at home or in school hostels,” he said.

The ministry of education, arts and culture said via its website that the status quo remains as is for all other schools in the absence of official communication from the ministry.

According to the ministry it was going to meet with health officials today (Sunday) and take a decision.

Contradictory

This is contrary to other online reports quoting the executive director of health Ben Nangombe confirming that all schools would close for the next 2-3 weeks, while the ministry continues to monitor the situation.

Windhoek Gymnasium also reacted to the two-week lockdown of the school imposed by Geingob.

In a message to parents the school denied that one of its teachers had been in contact with a couple who tested positive for the coronavirus in Namibia.

The school said the guesthouse where the couple are staying, belongs to one of the parents of a teacher, but she has had no contact with them or the guesthouse, “so our learners are not at risk”.

The school will reopen on 30 March. All parents were urged to remain calm.

The school management gave the assurance that it will handle the issue with utmost urgency, saying it would communicate all decisions through the correct channels.

Welwitschia Hospital also issued a fake news alert after rumours started doing the rounds that three patients from the cruise ship that visited the harbour town yesterday, had been admitted and are being treated for Covid-19 in the hospital.
“These rumours are unfounded and not true,” the hospital said via social media.

Flights

Following after the announcement by Geingob, Air Namibia announced the temporary suspension of the Windhoek – Frankfurt – Windhoek route effective Saturday 14 March 2020 for a period of 30 days.

The airline said that the SW285 (Windhoek – Frankfurt) flight scheduled for this evening would not operate, whereas the SW286 (Frankfurt – Windhoek) would operate tonight, returning to base with passengers and all crew members.

All crew members on the SW286 will be required to take forced leave (self-quarantine) as a precautionary measure.

Air Namibia’s Airbus A330 aircraft will also be grounded for the next 30 days as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

All passengers on the affected flights will be offered two options: Either be rerouted through alternative and partner airlines or they would be fully refunded immediately. Passengers opting for rerouting will be offered one nights’ accommodation only (where applicable), whilst finalising their itinerary. Air Namibia’s Call Centre is doing its best to inform all affected passengers about the immediate change.

Air Namibia’s Acting CEO Elia Erastus said that the national airline activated its Crisis Management Centre (CMC) this morning to coordinate all developments, recommend best practices and implement mitigation actions relating to the prevention of the Covid-19.

Erongo reacts

Moments before President Geingob cancelled the independence celebrations, Walvis Bay Urban Constituency Councillor Knowledge Iipinge declined an invitation to attend the celebrations due to the confirmed coronavirus cases in Windhoek.

Iipinge said he is tabling a motion to impose a 30-day travel ban to the Erongo region.

“This is being done in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the Walvis Bay Urban Constituency and the Erongo region at large, in terms of the regional Council Act (Act 22 of 1992), Rules 12(1) and 13(1) of the Standing Rules.”

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