We are not out of the woods - Geingob

18 September 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



The Covid-19 state of emergency expired last night and the onus is now on each individual to exercise maximum personal responsibility and vigilance, President Hage Geingob cautioned yesterday.

While announcing the end of the Covid-19 state of emergency yesterday, Geingob emphasised that the possibility of a second wave of infections in Namibia remains real “and is a risk that we must manage proactively”.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and not by a long shot. Now is the time to exercise maximum personal responsibility and vigilance,” Geingob said at a State House briefing.

He said cabinet had held extensive deliberations to consider the expiry of the Covid-19 state of emergency and to determine appropriate measures to put in place beyond midnight on 17 September.





The president said authorities will monitor the situation for the next 14 days, and where warranted, appropriate measures will be introduced.

Geingob said the average number of confirmed daily new cases continues on a downward trend - from 317 cases reported on 23 August and 167 cases reported on 12 September, to Wednesday's recorded low of only 63 new cases.

“This represents a further 30% reduction in daily new infections, countrywide, over the last seven days. Walvis Bay, once the epicentre, recorded at peak a record of 102 cases on 7 August.

“Today, we have recorded just three new cases at Walvis Bay. For Windhoek, which has become the epicentre in our fight against this disease, at peak recorded 245 cases on 23 August. Today, Windhoek recorded 62 new cases.

“This is indicative that measures to suppress the spread have worked, as testing and contact tracing have not been relaxed and remain constant,” Geingob said.



Systems strengthened

Geingob said the government had used the six-month state of emergency to strengthen systems.

“We spared no effort or resource to reinforce our public healthcare system and other frontline sectors, to the best of our ability and within the financial constraints. With the lapse of regulations, it must dawn on each and every citizen that we are now at a critical time. This is a defining moment in our trajectory to combat Covid-19.

“The rate of transmission correlates directly to our personal conduct and is driven primarily by our movement and behavioural choices with regard to social and physical distancing, hygiene and commitment to wear facemasks to suppress the spread.

“When making plans for yourself, family, business, event or congregation, we urge you to consider this reality for everyone's benefit,” Geingob emphasised.

He said Covid-19 had “affected each and every one of our lives in ways we could not have imagined or prepared for”.

“In a space of a few months, we have been called upon to introspect and reach into the deepest parts of our psyches, to summon the resolve to persevere, the strength to endure and the courage to move forward with hope, faith and dignity.

“I am confident that through this challenging experience, we have developed a greater understanding of just how intricately connected our lives are,” the head of state said.

“Now, moving forward, we will continue to hold hands in a spirit of brotherhood, sisterhood and national fraternity, having developed a deeper understanding of our interdependency and thereby continuing to live our lives in a responsible manner and adopting a more harmonious coexistence with our fellow citizens.”



'Uniformed services'

He also used the opportunity to pay a special tribute to the country's uniformed services “and our frontline health workers, who have put themselves in front of the virus, as we have battled this unprecedented pandemic”.

“To all our doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), transporters, pharmacists and all of those who support patient care: you have exemplified the spirit of sacrifice and patriotism.

“And as I think of those men and women who have lost their lives to this pandemic, in service to their fellow human beings, I am reminded of the words of Napoleon Hill, who said, 'Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness',” Geingob said.