THE evacuation of 40 staff members from an entire subdivision of the Namibian Police from the National Police Headquarters in Windhoek because of a COVID-19 scare has led to disciplinary action against an officer.
According to a statement issued by the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga the debacle was caused by a false alarm.
“On 22 June 2020, one employee reported to have been in contact with her aunt, who, according to her, ‘tested positive’ for COVID-19. Subsequent to the receipt of such information more than 40 members of the Namibian Police Force who had access to the 5th floor of the PNHQ were ordered to leave the premises and to self-quarantine.”
According to the statement the entire 5TH floor of the headquarters was then disinfected, while an internal investigation was launched to determine the alleged positive case, as well as possible contact tracing.
“The investigation revealed that an aunt to the employee reportedly suffers from sinusitis and on 21 June 2020 she is alleged to have jokingly informed her family that she had tested positive for COVID-19. This is the joke that was brought to the Police National Headquarters on Monday, 22 June 2020,” General Ndeitunga said in the statement.
The ‘joke’ led to panic and confusion among staff members working at the PNHQ and as a result the Inspector-General dealt with the member in conformity to State of Emergency regulations.
The Inspector-General said he views the mishandling of information by professionals who are entrusted with upholding the handling of confidential information in a very serious light
“The decision to take disciplinary steps against the officer involved also serves as a warning to would-be offenders. It is aimed at warning people to refrain from initiating and circulating unverified information.”
General Ndeitunga stated that he Namibian Police regrets the inconvenience caused to the public, who may rightly have had fears caused by the announcement that staff members were ordered to go into self isolation.
“I hereby wish to assure the nation and all the visitors to the PNHQ that the building is so far safe and free from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Inspector-General reminded and encouraged Namibians to always verify the information they may wish to circulate, as it may turn out to be untrue and misleading and may lead to unnecessary confusion and panic.