Vaccination uptake not satisfactory

Regulations amended
Leandrea Louw
The number of new Covid-19 infections have significantly decreased in the past few weeks.


Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula stated that the decline in new infections resulted in decreased hospitalisation, deaths, a declining positivity ratio among those being tested for Covid-19 and receding numbers in terms of case fatality ratio (CFR).
“These statistics are encouraging. They tell a story of the effectiveness of the measures we have put in place to suppress the further spread of infections. This relief provides a window of opportunity to continue to strengthen the country’s preparedness and response mechanism.”

According to the minister, government has invested in the servicing and repair of the existing mortuaries aside from improving facilities across the country. “The capacity of mortuaries at public health facilities has been enhanced with the acquisition, donations and installation of refrigerated mobile containers at Windhoek Central Hospital (80), Mariental (25), Okahandja (38), Otjiwarongo (38), Outapi (38), Onandjokwe (38), Gobabis (25), Tsumeb (40), Omaruru (25), Usakos (25) and Karibib Health Centre (6).”

Vaccination

The minister highlighted that the vaccination uptake falls short of projected targets. “While the country target is to vaccinate 750 000 of the 1 501 041 persons targeted for vaccination by 13 October 2021, only 288 692 (19.2%) persons have so far received the first dose of vaccination and 213 294 persons (or 14.2%) are fully vaccinated. If we take the total population of Namibia and not only the vaccination eligible population as the denominator, 7.7% of the population is fully vaccinated.”

Regionally, as at 13 October 2021, South Africa has fully vaccinated 16.51% of the population, while Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia have vaccinated 16.3%, 10.4%, 1.6% respectively.

Shangula said that with sufficient doses of vaccines available, all regional health directorates are preparing to launch intensified vaccination campaigns in their respective regions. “Covid-19 vaccination is now available at anti-retroviral clinics, workplaces, old age homes, social pension pay-out points, shopping malls and other places in addition to established vaccination sites. These strategies are yielding positive outcomes in terms of increased uptake for at risk populations.”

Namibia acquired five different types of Covid-19 vaccines, namely Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sputnik V to satisfy the appetite of the public.

Improved service delivery

Thus far, for the period 15 September to 13 October 2021, under the dispensation of the expiring Covid-19 regulations, 188 persons were recruited. This is a combination of specialists (4), medical officers (2), registered nurses (21), enrolled nurses (90) social workers (4), drivers (5), occupational therapists (2), pharmacists (3), radiographers (3), health programme officers (19), cleaners (21), and other cadres.

According to the minister, these recruitments are providing improvemed service delivery. “The government of the United Kingdom’s Emergency Management Team (EMT) was deployed in Namibia for about five weeks and provided capacity building through training of nurses and doctors. The training included Basic and Advanced Life Support, Infection Prevention and Control, and management of critically ill patients with Covid-19.”

Regulations

Persons travelling into Namibia must present a SARS-Cov2 PCR test result from an authorized laboratory in the country of departure, with results not older than seven days, calculated from the date the sample was taken.

The minister said that Namibia will accept authentic de-isolation certificates from previously infected travellers who are still testing positive with the PCR test at the Points of Entry regardless of nationality. “The certificate has to be valid for at least three months from the time of issuance. The above provisions apply to travellers who present vaccination certificates. The ministry is exploring the use of digital certificates to identify the technology suitable for use in Namibia, for inbound and outbound travellers.”

Shangula explained that Namibians who intend to travel to Europe, must take their vaccination cards along. “Entry into public places like restaurants, is only permitted after having provided proof of full vaccination against Covid-19.”

Curfew suspension

The minister said that the suspension of curfew, will result in increased business activities and face-to-face interactions. He challenged business owners to encourage patrons, employees and customers to be vaccinated. The minister also implored more Namibians to get vaccinated and complete the vaccination schedule ahead of the Festive Season.