Quarantine facility to be cleared

Ministry owes municipality millions

03 November 2020 | Ministries

Swakopmund • Erwin Leuschner

The number of new Covid-19 infections in the Erongo region has been declining for months. Since last Tuesday, for the first time since the pandemic began, there has been neither a seriously ill or critical patient at the coast.

For this reason, the Ministry of Health needs less accommodation for quarantine purposes, which was a topic of discussion at the recent Swakopmund town council meeting.

The Ministry of Health used 112 bungalows and 78 so-called rest houses for quarantine purposes at the Swakopmund municipal rest camp (SMRC) since the beginning of the pandemic.

The ministry rented the bungalows at a reduced rate, while the 78 rest houses were made available free of charge for a period of six months. This deadline expired at the end of September.

According to town council the outstanding invoices for the 112 bungalows for the months of July, August and September amount to more than N$3.6 million.

“Unfortunately, no payment has been received so far,” council said.

Because of the decline in new infections, the regional health director Anna Jonas informed the municipality at the beginning of September that the 112 bungalows were no longer needed.

“However, we will continue to use the 78 units (rest houses) that were previously assigned to the ministry free of charge,” Jonas informed the local council in writing.

Council does not agree with this; instead it ordered the Ministry of Health to vacate the 78 rest houses by the end of October.

The reason for this is stated in the draft resolution that the SMRC is a “self-supporting unit” that generates its own income and thus finances its own operations. The 78 rest houses, which the ministry used for six months for free, reported monthly losses of nearly N$2.5 million.

“This situation is not sustainable for the rest camp and postponing free use will only worsen the poor financial situation of the facility,” council said.

“The ministry’s request should not be considered in a bid to save the Swakopmund municipality from further financial losses.”

For this reason, town council decided that the Ministry of Health should not only vacate the 78 rest houses by the end of October, but also disinfect and clean them all. Furthermore, the ministry must clean all bed covers. In addition, the inventory must be checked.

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