Latest Covid-19 case exposes Walvis to virus

28 May 2020 | Health



A series of blunders led to 63-year-old Walvis Bay fisherman, the country's latest coronavirus patient, visiting doctors and pharmacies for about two weeks while infected with the deadly virus.

Between 7 and 22 May, the man, who had been complaining of shoulder pain, moved freely around the harbour town, after allegedly getting infected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It appears government guidelines were flouted when dealing with the fisherman who returned from the DRC, a country with over 2 290 cases and 67 deaths.

During a media briefing yesterday, deputy health minister Esther Muinjangue said government has been following guidelines which stipulate that quarantine is mandatary for all arrivals into Namibia.

Guidelines ignored

“Everyone who enters Namibia is put under quarantine for 14 days and we test them on day 12, because the incubation period is either from day two or the 14th day. In that period, the person should start showing the signs of Covid-19,” she said.

However, contrary to these guidelines, the fisherman was sent home to self-isolate for about two weeks.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said the latest case was only screened at a point of entry.

“I understand that the doctor convinced the health official to allow the person to self-quarantine because of his existing health condition. The rest of the crew have not disembarked,” he said.

Shangula could however not say whether the crew has been in tested for the coronavirus in the meantime.

Deadly route

According to Shangula, the 63-year-old man, still on the vessel at the time, alerted his doctor about pain in his shoulder on 7 May. With permission from the regional authorities, he was released into self-isolation the next day.

A week later on 14 May, he called his doctor for a prescription and visited a pharmacy to collect his medicine.

Five days later, he visited his doctor physically, complaining about chronic pain, and was examined and sent back home with more medication.

Three days later on 22 May, the man went to a local private hospital where he was admitted in a general ward.

He was finally moved to the intensive care unit days later when he started developing breathing problems.

It was only then that he was tested for the coronavirus, and tested positive.

Hospital staff and the man's contacts have all tested negative and have been put in isolation for further monitoring.

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