Walvis Bay residents don't listen – Shangula

The health minister and his predecessor Dr Bernhard Haufiku have placed the blame for Walvis Bay becoming the epicentre of the country's Covid-19 outbreak firmly on the shoulders of the town's residents.

26 June 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



As the country's Covid-19 infections rose to 90 yesterday, with 11 new cases recorded in Walvis Bay alone, the town's residents have been accused of gross disrespect for rules and regulations.

Both health minister Kalumbi Shangula and presidential health advisor Dr Bernard Haufiku accused Walvis Bay residents of not sticking to the rules when it comes to social distancing, limiting travel and other precautions needed to stop the spread of the virus.

A whopping 40 of the country's coronavirus cases are from Walvis Bay.

These include a prison warden who transmitted the virus to a colleague and more than five family members.



Hotspots

Following these developments, Kuisebmond and the area surrounding the local prison were identified as hotspots by the health ministry, which immediately expanded its targeted testing and is searching actively for contacts.

According to Shangula, this spiral of cases is a result of the town and region's residents failing to adhere to health and safety regulations.

“People do not follow the directives which are given to them.'





There was a lockdown which compelled people to be at home, but those measures were not observed fully. Social distancing, staying at home and wearing a mask are elementary things that people are failing to do and that is why transmissions are taking place,” he said.







'Virus found its hole'



Haufiku also said the developments in Walvis Bay show exactly how transmissible the virus is and how it can manage to spread in one community.



“There was a hole and the virus found its hole. There is something in the set-up, interaction and travelling that allowed the virus to find its way easier into Walvis Bay. Even during the first and second lockdown, people were still moving between Walvis Bay and other towns and there was also a vessel of about 100 people that docked at the port recently.



“These are all loopholes that the virus found in our response,” Haufiku said.



He added that he believes the infection rate has not peaked yet and may only reach its peak after a few more weeks or a month or two.







Higher risk



According to Dr Eric Dziuban, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention country director, it was always expected that Walvis Bay would present a higher risk for Covid-19 transmission than many other parts of the country.



“This is because of the port, and the fact that so many truck drivers from other countries are either beginning or ending their routes in Walvis Bay,” he said.



According to him, the number of infections will continue to rise, because of the active surveillance and contact tracing by the health ministry.



He, however, added that Namibia is still in a position to control and delay the spread of the virus.







Constant vigilance



“It means we have more control of the situation right now, and if we continue to be very vigilant, we can still slow down or even stop widespread transmission in Namibia,” he said.



Dziuban also said it is remarkable that Namibia has less than 100 Covid-19 cases when neighbouring South Africa has recorded well over 100 000 cases, with more than 2 200 deaths.



“This pandemic is most easily influenced by our actions and there are key actions: The appropriate controls of the movement of people, the acceptance of wearing masks and the ministry's ability to aggressively and thoroughly investigate every case,” Dziuban said.







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