Quality of quarantine facilities questioned

Several incidents of escapes from quarantine have been attributed to the alleged deplorable state of facilities.

27 May 2020 | Health

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Government yesterday blamed miscommunication for some long-distance truck drivers being made to self-isolate in the trailers of their vehicles.

This is amidst accusations that increasing incidents of persons escaping such quarantine facilities was because they are kept inhospitable places.

Yesterday, police reported that a truck driver on Monday left a quarantine facility in the Khomas Region to fetch a blanket at home because it was cold.

Khomas regional police commander, Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, also reported that another truck driver snuck out of a quarantine facility last weekend in Khomas to visit his girlfriend, while another trucker escaped and was later found at his home.





Urinated in empty bottles

The ministry of health says it places persons in quarantine where it finds appropriate facilities, hence the varying quality of locations.

A truck driver Namibian Sun interviewed over the weekend bemoaned the state of the facility they were quarantined in, saying they were forced to urinate in empty cooldrink bottles and sleep in the trailers of their vehicles.

A video seen by Namibian Sun showed a man being given food without cutlery to use.

The video further shows a bed a quarantined person is supposed to sleep in, with claims that the sheets, pillows or blankets were not replaced after being used by someone else.



Deemed acceptable standard

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe acknowledged that the quality of quarantine facilities would differ and said the ministry placed persons in supervised isolation where it finds space it deems of acceptable standard.

“We quarantine people where we find space,” said Nangombe. “I would like to think that the facilities are not the same. We take what is available to us as long as it is in good quality.”

According to him, the ministry first enquires about the availability of accommodation then asks those who own the establishments whether they are comfortable housing persons who may have been infected with the coronavirus upon their return to Namibia.

Nangombe added that in the instance of truck drivers, they are quarantined where they make their last loads.



Miscommunication

“They are quarantined at their point of destination. That is the standard operating procedure. It is not that we send them to a specified destination for quarantine,” he said.

Regarding the claim made by the truck drivers at the coast, Nangombe said it was not the intention of the ministry that they were required to sleep in their trailers of their trucks.

He acknowledged that there may have been miscommunication within the ministry regarding the placement of truck drivers in quarantine at the coast.

Namibian Sun had tried to contact FP Du Toit, whose trucks' trailers were used for some of its drivers to self-quarantine, but they were not reachable for comment.

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