Covid-19: 60 000 to be tested

29 April 2020 | Disasters

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Health minister Kalumbi Shangula believes Namibia is firmly in control of the coronavirus outbreak, with no new cases reported in the last three weeks.

Shangula says the next step is to determine whether any community transmission has occurred and that will be done by testing 100 people per day.

“But if we come to test number 60 000 and we are satisfied that no community transmission took place, then we will stop the testing,” he said.

To date Namibia has recorded no death as a result of Covid-19, and by 25 April 675 tests had been performed countrywide.

So far, eight of the 16 confirmed cases have recovered. On 13 March 2020, Namibia reported its first cases of Covid-19, a Romanian couple who had arrived in Windhoek from Spain via Doha, Qatar, three days earlier.

Following the first recorded case of coronavirus in the country, the government imposed a 21-day lockdown of the Erongo and Khomas regions and suspended inter-regional travel.

At the same time, it introduced a range of regulations to curb the spread of the virus, such as banning large gatherings including sessions of parliament. The lockdown was extended to informal markets and included a ban on the sale of alcohol.



Encouraging

CDC Namibia country director Dr Eric Dziuban explained that the objective is to “flatten the curve”, which means slowing down transmission to keep the healthcare system from being overwhelmed by sick people.





“It is really encouraging.

“We do not see any signals that there are more infections.

“We would have seen increased levels of hospitalisations and deaths.

“I believe government's decision to lock down the country so early has helped a bit, but it does not protect us or our immunity.

“We have to be very careful now, with our neighbour South Africa recording more and more cases,” he said.

“South Africa has so far recorded 4 793 cases and 90 deaths.



Lockdown hope

Meanwhile, an expert in the health ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity says if Namibia records no new cases for the next two weeks, the country can ease up on its lockdown regulations.

“I am for progressive easing of the lockdown and not a one-off opening up.

“And if new infections should occur, then we should be able to revert back to the lockdown and this must be carefully communicated to Namibians,” she said.

[email protected]

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