Covid-19: Namibia only has 318 ventilators

With infections from the virus picking up significantly in the past six weeks, the country’s logistical readiness has come into sharper focus.

15 January 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

Despite Namibia having 3 449 active cases of Covid-19, the country only has 318 ventilators and 235 intensive care unit (ICU) beds to its disposal.

Of the 318 ventilators, only 202 are reserved for Covid-19 ICU wards.

As of Wednesday, 297 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, 33 of them in ICUs.

So far, 271 people have died from the virus or related complications, with seven fatalities announced on Wednesday. Yesterday’s daily Covid-19 update was not available at the time of going to print.

Namibia is in a battle against a vicious second wave of Covid-19, including the new variant version.

If lung function has been severely impaired - due to injury or an illness such as Covid-19 - patients may need a ventilator, which pumps air - usually with extra oxygen - into a patient’s airways when they are unable to breathe adequately on their own.

Might ‘devastate’ country

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula this week lamented the rate at which the virus is spreading and that it is threatening to ‘devastate’ the country.

“The past weeks, especially starting the second week of December, Namibia witnessed greater numbers of infections, hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19. Infections amongst healthcare workers have also gone up tremendously. This has placed increased pressure on our health system and facilities - both public and private,” he said.

So far, a total of 1 350 healthcare workers have been infected, and six have died. A week ago, the number of infected healthcare workers stood at about 700.

Worrying numbers

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said 116 of the country’s ventilators are for general ICU wards, while 202 are reserved for Covid-19 ICU wards.

Of the 202 ventilators for Covid-19 patients, 25 are at private facilities, and 177 in state hospitals.

Nangombe added that of the 235 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 121 are for general health use and 114 are for Covid-19 patients.

He said there are currently 864 beds in healthcare isolation facilities, of which 133 are at private facilities and 731 at state facilities.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, 29 183 people have tested positive for the virus in Namibia.

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