Corona alert at police headquarters false

02 July 2020 | Police

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Namibian police chief, Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, says the suspected coronavirus contact at the police national headquarters was a false alarm and caused the force embarrassment.

According to a statement, on 22 June an employee at the headquarters reported to have been in contact with her aunt, who tested positive for the coronavirus.

After receiving this information, Ndeitunga directed that over 40 members of the police, who had access to the fifth floor of the building, leave the premises and self-quarantine.

According to him, the floor was disinfected while an internal investigation was launched into the alleged positive case and to do contact tracing.



'Embarrassment'

The investigation revealed that the employee's aunt reportedly suffers from sinusitis and on 21 June jokingly informed her family that she tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This is the joke that was brought to the police national headquarters on Monday,” Ndeitunga said. “The information caused the police force embarrassment.”

The police chief said he has dealt with the employee in terms of the state of emergency regulations.

According to the regulations, anyone publishing a false or misleading statement in connection with the coronavirus, including on social media, is committing an offence for which they can be fined up to N$2 000 or face up to six months in prison.

This also includes statements intended to deceive anyone about someone's coronavirus status or measures to combat, prevent and suppress the virus as outlined in the regulations.

Serious

Ndeitunga said this indicates the seriousness with which he and the entire management of the police treat the mishandling of information by professionals entrusted with confidential information. He said it also serves as a warning to would-be offenders to refrain from initiating and circulating unverified information.

The police chief further expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the public, who may rightly have had fears, and assured the nation and all visitors to the police headquarters that it is safe and free from the coronavirus so far. He also encouraged everyone to always verify information they may wish to circulate, as it may turn out to be untrue and misleading and may lead to confusion and panic.