Germans evacuated from Namibia

Crew exempted from strict quarantine regime

26 March 2020 | Disasters

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

The German government yesterday evacuated its 186 citizens from Namibia before the country's borders are slammed shut tomorrow as part of combating the further spread of coronavirus.

The chartered Air Europa flight from Windhoek proceeded to South Africa - where a national lockdown goes into effect today - to pick up 147 German citizens.

The Germans were evacuated with the involvement of Namibia's ministries of health, home affairs and international relations.

This happened after a series of letters were exchanged between government and the German embassy in Namibia, which was uncompromising in ensuring its citizens safely return to Europe.

Among the seven cases of coronavirus infections reported in Namibia is a German tourist who arrived in the country via Zimbabwe.

In a letter sent to the ministry of international relations, the German embassy in Windhoek requested permission for an overnight chartered flight that landed at Hosea Kutako International Airport on Tuesday and departed yesterday afternoon.

The embassy asked that the 11 crew members - three flight crew and 8 cabin crew members - on the flight out of Madrid, Spain, be exempted from Namibia's current quarantine regulations.

Permission was granted to exempt the crew from the 14-day quarantine period that Namibia is currently implementing, with the crew whisked away to Ondekaremba lodge located eight kilometres east of Windhoek.





In its request, the German embassy stated that the crew operating the flight would be accommodated at the Ondekaremba Lodge for the duration of their stay and that they would be quarantined there for 12 hours in order to rest.





“The embassy would like to request that the esteemed ministry grant an exemption from the travel ban as well as quarantine time for all 12 crew members/staff of the airline and would permit them to stay at Ondekaremba Lodge, outside Windhoek,” the letter said.

The ministry of international relations confirmed the request from the German embassy and said the flight departed from Namibia yesterday afternoon.





Crew isolated



“They [German government] got permission to land in Namibia. The crew was isolated and placed under self-quarantine. The passengers boarded the plane yesterday afternoon and left for Germany,” said Sabine Böhlke-Möller, the ministry's director of bilateral relations.



She added that the ministry of health had given assurances that the flight crew did not come into contact with anybody in Namibia.



The airline was expected to collect more passengers in South Africa before returning to Europe.



No other evacuation requests



According to Böhlke-Möller, no further requests had been made by other countries regarding the repatriation of their citizens from Namibia.



Namibia has reported seven confirmed cases of coronavirus infection so far.