N$1.1b corona budget stretched thin

Quarantining people over fears of the coronavirus has emerged as a huge cost factor in the fight against the virus.

05 May 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has confirmed that N$727 million of the N$1.1 billion coronavirus budget has been allocated to the acquisition of a number of services including accommodation for quarantine purposes.

Shangula could, however, not share how much it has cost government so far to keep close to 1 000 people in quarantine.

This includes a group of people who were initially placed in quarantine at Greiters Lodge and later moved to Okapuka Lodge, about 10 kilometres away.

Some people were also quarantined in the luxurious The Village Executive Suites in Windhoek's Eros suburb, while others were housed at the Hardap Dam Resort, Rock Lodge, Gross Barmen Resort and Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park.



Budget details

Currently, 218 people are still in quarantine.

Government has paid for accommodation, meals and transport.

The coronavirus budget also covers the purchase of equipment such as monitors and personal protection equipment, construction at Windhoek Central Hospital, renovation of the Robert Mugabe Clinic as well as unforeseen expenses.

The Robert Mugabe Clinic now operates as a screening and treatment facility, while Windhoek Central Hospital's casualty department is being remodelled into a 12-bed intensive care unit for coronavirus patients.



Unforeseen circumstances

“We do not know how long this situation will continue; it may bring some more needs that we need to take care of. And that is why provisions have been made in the budget for those unforeseen circumstances,” Shangula said.

The government has also upgraded existing medical facilities and established a 540-bed treatment centre at the former Rhino Garments Factory at the Ramatex Complex in Windhoek's Otjomuise area.

So far, just over 1060 people have been tested following the launch of a targeted testing campaign which includes frontline workers such as medical staff and journalists.

Namibia's official coronavirus count stands at 16 infected, of which eight people have recovered so far.



Namibian driver

Meanwhile, a Namibian truck driver tested positive for the deadly virus in Zambia on 19 April, and has been in isolation in that country.

According to Shangula, the driver entered Zambia via the Katima Mulilo border post on 19 April after loading cargo at Walvis Bay.

He was then released and travelled to Kasumbalesa before being called back to Masaiti where he was subjected to another test, which was positive.

According to Shangula, the driver was released to go home after he tested negative twice while in isolation.

“The ministry has initiated a contact-tracing exercise for all persons who may have come into contact with the truck driver while he was driving from Walvis Bay to Zambia,” Shangula said.

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