Corona shuts Windhoek businesses

• Private entities, govt offices and parastatals send staff home

29 July 2020 | Health

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Although the harbour town of Walvis Bay remains the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in Namibia, a flurry of business, government and parastatal closures in Windhoek, where a surge in suspected or confirmed cases has been recorded, have plunged the capital city into a sense of gloom.

The national case tally is now rising quickly and is hurtling towards 2 000 infections.

More worrying is the latest forced business closures, along with both parliamentary, government and parastatal staff being sent home because of possible exposure to the coronavirus.





With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases steadily on the increase in Windhoek, health executive director Ben Nangombe said the ministry was concerned and that targeted mass testing was being discussed for certain areas in the capital.

This follows confirmed cases at the University of Namibia (Unam), NamWater, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Namibian Police, Windhoek City Police, MTC and Bank Windhoek, among others.

Ludwigsdorf, Khomasdal, Goreangab and Havana are among the areas in Windhoek where cases have been confirmed recently.

“We have looked at such a [mass testing] plan and are working with the regional [health] directorate. It has not been approved [yet]. We are looking at a target of 1 000 people,” said Nangombe.

“We have identified locations that we are targeting. It will be announced once we have reached that decision. I do not want to comment on a decision that has not yet been taken,” he said.



Limited resources

Speaking during a webinar yesterday, former health minister Bernard Haufiku said the government's approach of targeted mass testing would help it manage the limited resources at hand.

“We have to be careful about mass testing; we are going to waste resources. Maybe targeted mass testing, we can look at that,” Haufiku said.

“Testing everyone will not be cost effective.”

Reflecting on Namibia's possible Covid-19 peak, Haufiku said there was a possibility that this would happen in September.

“We have to be very cautious. We are not yet at the peak. In Namibia we are still climbing. We suspect that we could reach the peak in August, if we are lucky,” he said.



Adherence

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula said a “worrying upsurge” in the number of confirmed cases had been observed.

Shangula yesterday announced 74 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country's total number of confirmed cases to 1 917. Of the new cases, 56 are from Walvis Bay, four from Lüderitz, four from Windhoek, three from Swakopmund, two from Oshakati, two from Rundu and one each from Okahandja, Omaruru and Onandjokwe.

“Although the town of Walvis Bay remains the epicentre of the pandemic at present, cases are increasing in other parts of the country. This is and must be a source of concern for all Namibians. It calls for greater vigilance and personal responsibility of each and every Namibian to do our part to stop the spread of this disease in its tracts. And it can be done,” Shangula said.

He encouraged the continual wearing of face masks, the frequent washing of hands, and only going out into public if it is absolutely necessary.

“These are the realities of our times. The only way Namibia can suppress the spread of the disease is by following and complying with these measures without fail. At all times, and by everyone,” he said.

His sentiment was echoed by the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr Eric Dziuban. According to him, the choices and recommended responses Windhoek residents make would determine how far the disease would spread.



Institutional responses

The Katutura Magistrate's Court was closed after a prosecutor stationed there tested positive. The doors of the court have now been closed for 21 days. Staff members have been sent home until the 21 days have lapsed.

The City Police closed its head office for six hours after an officer tested positive for Covid-19.

NamWater closed its doors after an employee had been in contact with a positive case. The office is expected to open on 3 August.

Unam confirmed its first Covid-19 case, while 39 students at the institution are currently quarantined and a further four staff members have been requested to self-isolate for fear of possible exposure to Covid-19.

The Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) head office temporarily shut down due to a suspected positive Covid-19 case.

The NBC also recently confirmed a positive case, but its northern industrial head office remains open.

A police officer has also tested positive, but the chief police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, would not say at which police station the officer was stationed.