Suspected coronavirus case sends Namibians into a frenzy

Public fears alleviated

01 February 2020 | Health

Swakopmund

The executive director of the ministry of health Ben Nagombe confirmed that no coronavirus case has been reported in the country.

He said that a woman (30) visiting Namibia checked herself into hospital in Swakopmund, telling staff that she was suffering from symptoms associated with the virus.

“She recently visited Australia. She said that she was suffering from flu symptoms. We took precautionary measures and isolated her as well as everybody that came into contact with her. I can authoritatively state that the above-mentioned case is not confirmed as sample results have not been received.”

Nangombe added that it was irresponsible to conclude prematurely that this was an actual case of coronavirus before laboratory tests had been conducted.

“Until such time that laboratory tests confirm that the case meets the standard definition for the coronavirus, we cannot say we have a case. We acted the way we did because the coronavirus is a potential threat to the country. We took samples and sent it to South Africa for laboratory tests. Our facilities are not equipped to conduct the tests. It is a suspected case and is being treated as such. We will only have clear information once we receive the test results.”

This situation, however, begs the question if Namibia is adequately prepared and equipped to deal with the virus should it occur.

When Erongo journalist Adolf Kaure visited Swakopmund state hospital earlier today after reports of a suspected coronavirus case started circulating on social media, he observed staff wearing protective masks.

When contacted for confirmation, Dr Amir Shakir who coordinates the Erongo regional office of the ministry of health, denied having knowledge of any coronavirus cases in the Erongo region.

Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public:

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows:

• Frequently wash your hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;

• When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;

• Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;

• If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care and share previous travel history with your health care provider;

• When visiting markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;

• The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

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