More isolation facilities needed

With the vast majority the country's coronavirus cases stemming from Walvis Bay, the harbour town is in desperate need of resources.

14 July 2020 | Health



Walvis Bay doesn't have enough quarantine and isolation facilities, with anonymous sources claiming that several people in Kuisebmond are yet to go into isolation, despite testing positive for the coronavirus.

During a Covid-19 update over the weekend, Erongo health director Anna Jonas said the region is also in need of transportation for patients and human resources to do contact tracing as well as data capturing.

Currently, 98% of the country's Covid-19 cases stem from Walvis Bay.

“For each positive Covid-19 case, there are about 20 to 30 contacts. The ministry has continuously provided us with personal protective equipment and we have also received ventilators,” Jonas said.

Increasing oxygen capacity

“We are busy increasing our oxygen capacity since there are only 28 beds with oxygen points at the old TB ward at the Walvis Bay hospital.

“The garages that were converted into an isolation facility will have about 15 oxygen points, but they can only be added after the patients currently in the facility have been moved somewhere else.

“We are also in the process of converting general wards to serve as isolation facilities to increase our oxygen capacity,” Jonas added.

Crew change

About 127 fishermen, who arrived from Europe last Friday, have been quarantined on fishing vessels in Walvis Bay.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula granted the fishing industry permission to carry out crew changes in a document signed on 10 June.

In his letter, Shangula approved the embarking and disembarking from Carapau 1, Jupiter-1, Venus-1, Desert Ruby, Desert Jewel, Mediva Star and Caveman Star of foreign crews, on the basis of precautionary measures being taken and testing, as well as a 14-day quarantine, in line with ministry procedures.

Jonas said this is not the first time a crew has been quarantined on vessels.

Strict measures

“We had people being quarantined on vessels for 14 days and tested on day 12 before they disembark. Only when all crew [members] test negative for Covid-19 will the vessel be allowed to travel to its next destination.

“There are strict measures to be applied when a crew is quarantined onboard, since each individual needs to be in a self-contained cabin,” Jonas explained.

“When the foreign crew boarded the vessel, we made sure there were not any of the other crew members onboard.”

Erongo governor Neville Andre said a police officer will be stationed on the vessel.

“A qualified medical practitioner will be aboard the vessel to check the daily temperature and apply other necessary medical duties.”

Earlier last week, when 43 crew members onboard a vessel tested positive for Covid-19, the health director said the crew will be placed in an isolation facility and will not remain onboard.

“We are working on it,” Andre added.

Decongestion strategy

Andre said 60 mass houses are available at Walvis Bay and 100 at Swakopmund to decongest informal settlements.

On Friday, he said the Walvis Bay houses will be allocated to beneficiaries on waiting lists.

“The inhabitants in congested spaces will be relocated temporarily to extensions 16 and 18. The municipality of Walvis Bay will enter into a temporary contractual arrangement with the people who will be moved in. A total number of 600 community members will be moved to the new site, adjacent to Twaloloka informal settlement,” he said.

“Extensions 161 and 162 in Swakopmund will be utilised to relocate people. The municipality will service the area at own cost.”

Stadiums, other buildings

Andre said both local authorities will make stadiums and other buildings available to relocate more people.

“There are an additional 29 houses for immediate occupation, but this will be done considering the existing waiting lists of the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) and the Swakopmund municipality. There are 111 houses under the Mass Housing scheme, but these houses, as per our information, are currently under litigation and cannot be occupied. The rest of the available houses under the Mass Housing initiative need renovation and it would be a costly exercise,” Andre said.

He added that other solutions to relocate people temporarily are also being considered.

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