Swakop geared for Covid surge

Testing backlog troubles ministry

24 August 2020 | Local News

Anna Jonas; Regional health director; “I think we have learned from the situation in Walvis Bay...”

Swakopmud • [email protected]

While the number of Covid-19 positive cases in Walvis Bay has steadily declined, Swakopmund has seen a small but significant increase, Erongo governor Neville Andre said at his weekly briefing.

“Since Saturday we have witnessed that the curve is flattening in Walvis Bay. However, this does not mean we have won the battle against. We still have a long way to go to ensure that we have totally eliminated the virus,” Andre said, urging residents of Walvis Bay to stick to health regulations pertaining to Covid-19.

According to Dr Marita Mouton, a senior medical officer for the ministry of health and social services in the region, the two wards used for isolation and quarantine at the Swakopmund state hospital have been readied and equipped with oxygen supply.

Each isolation ward at this hospital can accommodate 25 patients.

Mouton said that the municipal bungalows in Swakopmund and the Henties Bay Youth Hostel have been availed as isolation and quarantine facilities. The two facilities can accommodate an estimated 700 patients.

Preparations at Tamariskia clinic in Swakopmund to house stable Covid-19 patients have also been concluded, with Mouton confirming that the facility is ready.

“I think we have learned from the situation in Walvis Bay, and that is why we are preparing Swakopmund to the best of our abilities,” the director of health in the Erongo region, Anna Jonas, told Erongo 24/7.

Troublesome testing

Mouton said that a limited number of testing kits have caused a major backlog in testing at the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) despite concerted attempts by the health ministry in the region.

“We are not testing optimally. Some days there are not enough samples available at NIP. Previously, we tested roughly 100 people per day, but now we have to minimise the numbers due to the huge backlog. We all know that the numbers have surged in Windhoek and that puts a strain on NIP facilities,” she said.

Meanwhile Captain Appolos Haimbala, the commandant of Marine Corps in the Namibian Navy, said that the security cluster was been struggling with residents who refuse to be admitted to quarantine facilities.

Mouton corroborated this, saying that effective contact tracing is hindered by the provision of false information when entering public areas.

Mouton also asked that the public bring along valid identity documents when going for testing.

“We have had a number of cases where people come for testing and the information on their test is incorrect,” she said, adding that the incorrect age, sex and names accompanying test results severely complicate the fight against Covid-19, warping statistics.

Travel permits

According to deputy commissioner Tobie Gerber, the operational commander for the Namibian Police Force in Erongo, protocols regarding travel out of the region also appears to be unclear to the public.

Persons leaving the region are required to isolate for the prescribed time and present test results, less than 72 hours old, that prove them to be Covid-19 negative in order to leave the Erongo region. They must also follow protocols in the region they plan to visit.

“There were about 100 people at Arandis last week who could not leave because they did not follow protocols and we had to call and see if there was space (in isolation facilities). If people are planning to leave, they must include a reference number of a person in the region they will be going to.”

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