NAMIBIA has so far managed to remain free of the novel coronavirus despite increasing confirmed cases in neighbouring South Africa, which today stood at thirteen after six new cases of the COVID-19 were announced by the country’s health officials.
Heal minister for Namibia, Dr Kalumbi Shangula today at a press briefing noted that with the current worldwide shortage on efficient testing apparatus for the novel coronavirus, Namibia should be commended for its ongoing efforts in strengthening the readiness and preparedness.
Next week, a simulation will be held at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, the minister further announced.
“The capability of the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) to conduct these tests places Namibia among a few African countries that conduct tests domestically. Namibia continues to strengthen our preparedness to deal with eventualities that may arise as a result of this outbreak. This includes putting in place capabilities for screening and laboratory testing of suspected cases,” Dr Shangula said.
He added that with the exception of a case pending results at Onandjokwe, the nine new suspected cases in Namibia have tested negative.
The suspected cases over a period of time include four from Windhoek, two from Rehoboth, two from Luderitz and one from Onandjokwe.
He added that two false alarm cases were also reported at Okahandja and Oranjemund, the former reported after a person walked past a Chinese national who was wearing a mask and went into panic mode.
“Much has also been said about the mass repatriation of about 500 Namibians who are currently in China. I wish to re-emphasise that it is not advisable to repatriate such a large number of persons into the country at once. This is because such an action goes against the advice and recommendations from the WHO regarding the exportation and importation of the disease into countries. The government has adopted a position that is more prudent to provide support to our citizens in China at locations where they are instead of repatriating them in a group. This is also adopted out of an abundance of caution. I must add that this does not mean that Namibians in China or in any affected country are prohibited from travelling back home out of their own volition,” Dr Shangula added.
The minister further maintained that Namibia participates in the weekly conference calls organised by SADC for updates and support.
Training workshops organised by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO are also attended regularly by medical personnel both locally and internationally.
In neighbouring South Africa, health minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize this morning announced that the 6 new confirmed cases were reported in Gauteng (4), in KwaZulu-Natal (1) and in the Western Cape (1).
The 4 new cases in the Gauteng province include a 33-year-old woman who had travelled to Italy, a couple – a 34-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman – who had travelled to Germany and a 57-year-old man who had travelled to both Austria and Italy.
In KwaZulu-Natal, it is reported that a 40-year-old man who had travelled to Portugal tested positive, while in the Western Cape, a 36-year-old man who had travelled multiple countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey, had tested positive.
“All the patients have now been advised. Those who are symptomatic have started receiving treatment. Some of these patients are already in hospital while some, specifically those who are asymptomatic are in self quarantine. Contact tracing has also started for all these cases,” said Dr Mkhize.
Dr Mkhize concluded that so far, 3 642 tests have been conducted in South Africa.