Should we open up or continue the lockdown?


19 July 2020 | Opinion

This message about Covid-19 is aimed at both Namibian politicians, leaders in industry, and ordinary citizens, writes Koos Calitz, a proud Namibian citizen.

Calitz, who is a registered professional engineer and a qualified high school teacher, with a love for mathematics, shared his thoughts on Covid-19 with Namibians.

“It is high time that our economy be restored while our health system takes charge of health issues,” writes Calitz.

He says it is unfortunate how world powers in the recent weeks and months of the Covid-19 pandemic have managed to create anxiety in the leadership of many African countries, and how many Namibians were influenced to now live in absolute fear of the virus.

Calitz reasons that lockdowns around the world were instituted only as a temporary measure to slow the initial spread of the virus, to buy time for health sectors to be better prepared for testing and treatment.

“Unfortunately a perception has now been created in Namibia that it is possible to contain the virus with extended lockdown measures without devastating consequences to our fragile economy, and to the livelihood of the majority of Namibians across our beautiful country.”

In support of his opinion, Calitz provided the following factual perspective through numbers. He points out that various credible sources have confirmed that the Covid-19 death rate in African countries is much lower than expected.

Calitz says that Africa appears to be more resistant to the coronavirus than other continents.

“Let us assume the worst case and apply Italy’s Covid-19 death statistics to Namibia. With its population of 60.46 million, Italy is densely populated with many people aged over 65. By 30 June 2020, 34 767 people had died from the virus in Italy. The highest number of deaths in Italy on a single day was reported already on 27 March 2020, when 919 people died. The death rate in Italy is calculated as: (34 767/60 460 000) × 100/1 = 0.058%.”

According to Calitz, this means that for every 100 000 people, 58 people will die, and 99 942 will survive.

“Applying the same death rate to Namibia’s population of 2 540 000, this translates into 1 473 Namibians dying of Covid-19 (0.058% × 2 540 000). In Swakopmund, with a population of 44 725, 26 people will die of Covid-19. In Walvis Bay, with a population of 62 096, 36 people will die of Covid-19. In Windhoek with a population of 325 000, 189 people will die of Covid-19.”

Calitz says his estimations shows that by applying Italy’s death rate, 1 473 people will die in Namibia from Covid-19.

“As a parent that has suffered the loss of a child, I know that the loss of one person is one too many, but do you realize that every year in Namibia more than 2 700 people die of cancer, and more than 2 200 people die of smoking? Was our country ever locked down, or schools and churches closed because people died of cancer or smoking?”

He also wants to know why so many people support extended lockdown measures that will eventually destroy the economy.

“While their salaries remain unchanged, do our decision-makers realize where we are heading? Why do so many Christian believers put their hope in lockdown measures instead of God? Why are these figures not shared in public? Why do we still have lockdown measures in place,” he wanted to know.

According to someone in the know, the harsh reality and problem we are faced with is that we have not made peace with dying from Covid-19.

“Death is not the issue. Being positive and the stigma that goes along with it, is the issue. More than 1 000 people die in car accidents on our roads, 5 000 die from AIDS and over 20 000 people die each year. It is a bit like remembering a loved one who has died. In the beginning it is difficult and later it gets easier for most. It’s a bit like HIV / AIDS was in the 1980s and 1990s. We got over AIDS but we struggle with Covid-19.”

This person pointed out that Covid-19 involves fear.

“You fight fear with facts and challenging isolation centres and health systems that are not up to standard. If we can stay at home in isolation we have taken away the biggest fear. Living with someone positive and dying from Covid-19 is a reality. However, we do not want the positive cases to reach 200 000 and the deaths to spiral out of control.”

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