Flaws exposed in Erongo Covid-19 battle plan

24 July 2020 | Health

LEANDREA LOUW

WALVIS BAY



Existing quarantine facilities in the Erongo Region only have 400 beds available, while more than 2 000 people who have been in contact with Covid-19 patients need to be quarantined.

This was just one of the revelations heard by a high-level delegation, consisting of five deputy ministers, that is visiting Erongo, specifically Walvis Bay, the current epicentre of the Covid-19 virus in the country.

Namibia recorded 120 new Covid-19 cases yesterday afternoon of which 106 are from Walvis Bay and five from Swakopmund. This brings the national tally of confirmed cases to 1 522, with 69 recoveries, 1 446 active cases and seven deaths.

Lieutenant-Colonel Aktofel Kwedhi, the operation officer of the newly established Emergency Operation Centre stationed at the Walvis Bay Civic Centre, told the delegation that the current plan to mitigate the virus in the town and region is not working.





The increase in infections has surpassed the available resources, resulting in frustration among the communities, he said.

Kwedhi said the existing quarantine facilities have only 400 beds available, while more than 2 000 people need to be quarantined.

“The isolation facilities currently available have fewer than 600 beds while the positive cases in the facilities are more than 1 000. Currently 60% of positive cases are in the communities.

“Healthcare workers deployed to deal with the pandemic in the region, particularly in Walvis Bay, are fewer than 80.

“Some of these healthcare workers are already in isolation or quarantine facilities.

“Resources deployed to support the operations are limited.

“These include ambulances, ventilators, swabbing kits, state laboratories and hospitals for Covid-19 patients and other supporting equipment,” Kwedhi said.

He said the proposed new plan starts with dividing the affected areas into smaller blocks for better case management.

“The next leg of the plan is evacuating the cleared members of the communities of restricted areas on a voluntary basis.

“The other leg is decongestion - moving the residents that are overcrowded to other places within restricted areas in order to reduce infections. In this way, infections can be contained from transmitting to other persons and places.

“This proposed plan will require more healthcare staff, more vehicles, a budget for evacuation transport arrangements and aggressive stakeholder and community engagement.”

Kwedhi recommended that the proposal be discussed urgently.

The delegation will visit the Walvis Bay and Swakopmund district hospitals, the isolation facility at Henties Bay and the fishing factories affected by Covid-19.

Tomorrow, the delegation will visit Farm 37 and Twaloloka, as well as the local cemeteries.

On Sunday morning a debriefing session will be hosted at the operation centre.