Coronavirus: Handshakes continue in the north
24 March 2020 | Disasters
Many people in the north are aware of the coronavirus pandemic but continue to shake hands when they greet others.
Ongwediva town council's spokesperson Jackson Muma says even those who wear gloves in the hope of avoiding the virus shake hands with people not wearing gloves.
Since the first two cases of the virus were confirmed in Namibia last weekend, many people have decided to stay away from public places. “Since the announcement by the president and the ministry of health on the measures needed to prevent the spreading of the virus, we engage residents of our town to educate them. We found out that before the cases were confirmed, our people were already aware of the disease and it only caused panic among the people,” Muma said. By Sunday everybody was already wearing masks and gloves to protect themselves. However, people were still shaking hands and were spotted at public places too close to each other, which is equally dangerous.” Muma said the Ongwediva council has closed all conference venues in town, including those in private establishments. He said life continues but people must be cautious. Senior citizen Hileni Kalumbu from Oshikashika village near Eheke says people are so used to shaking hands that it is hard to unlearn it.
“We are aware that hand shaking is prohibited as a precautionary measure to control the spreading of the disease, but since it is a traditional practice that has been in practice for many centuries it is difficult to control. When you meet someone and do not shake their hand, it is like you have issues with them. Handshaking is a sign of peace,” Kalumbu says.
The Ondangwa open market is one of the popular markets in the north that attract customers and traders from nearby villages.
Toini Kamati, one of the vendors at the open market, says there are far fewer customers since Monday last week and even some vendors have decided to stay away for fear of the coronavirus. “Before it was announced that coronavirus was in Namibia it was already talked about by everybody here at the open market and everybody was already aware that it is a deadly virus. People are afraid of it because we heard it can be transmitted through exchange of money and hand shaking,” Kamati says. The authorities urged people to regularly wash their hands with soap and water in order to curb the spread of the virus.