Hospitals hit by oxygen shortage as Covid-19 spikes

10 May 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula says the ministry is addressing oxygen challenges being experienced at some hospitals, as the country seems to be edging closer to a new surge in Covid-19 cases.

On Saturday, Namibia recorded a new record of 341 new cases. Of these, 100 were from the Khomas Region alone.

Nine days ago, the highest number of daily new Covid-19 cases stood at 174.

Health professionals at some of Windhoek’s Covid-19 testing facilities say they have witnessed a sudden spike in the number of cases in the last 96 hours and more and more people are arriving at these centres “very sick”.

“At our facility (Robert Mugabe) we are facing a serious oxygen supply shortage because when people get here, they are already very ill. At this stage we can only accommodate five people at a time on oxygen,” one of them said.

The staff members fear that the Indian variant of the virus may have already spilled over to Namibia, given the state of patients when they arrive for testing.

‘No surge’

Minister Kalumbi admitted that there is an increasing demand for hospitalisation but dismissed the possibility of a new wave.

“There is a high demand for hospitalisation both in the public and in the private sector. The number of new cases is published every day.

“The number of daily cases does not support a new wave. However, more people who are positive are needing hospitalisation. Patients are being transferred where there are beds available,” he said.

Kalumbi declined to comment on whether Namibia is testing for the Indian variant B.1.617.2, of which four cases have been identified in South Africa.

“It does not really matter which variant is in the country. All variants are bad news: they all infect people and they all kill people. The important thing is to prevent transmission of all Covid-19 variants. None of the variants is friendly,” he said.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative for the African region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, warned that Covid-19 surges are likely to occur on the continent.

She said a similar situation to India could be avoided if African governments played their part with policies and legislation and continued prohibiting public and religious gatherings, which have become hotspots for infection.

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