SOME people from Walvis Bay that have tested positive for COVID-19 are forced to self isolate and hope for the best because medical facilities in the harbour town are filled to capacity.
This shocking revelation was made by Knowledge Ipinge, Walvis Bay’s Urban Constituency Councillor, after he expressed his frustration with the passive approach of the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, towards flattening the sharp upward curve of COVID-19 in especially the harbour town.
“People that have been tested are informed of their COVID-19 status by a phone call. They do not receive any other information or instruction. They are simply being told that they have tested positive,” Ipinge said.
He said some did the responsible thing and went home to self isolate.
According to Ipinge the living conditions of some people however does not allow for any kind of isolation because most of the ablutions facilities where they are, are shared and people are living on top of each other especially in backyard shacks and the informal settlement of Walvis Bay.
“The available health officials are not nearly enough and cannot attend to and monitor all the people that have gone into self isolation,” he said.
Ipinge went further and said that a lot of people that have been identified as contacts of positive cases are being quarantined at the National Youth Service Centre at Henties Bay and some have been there for more than three weeks already without being tested.
“The same goes for the results of the retesting that is being carried out. No results are coming back and people’s fears of getting infected or re-infected by others in isolation at the same facility are legitimate,” he said.
He said hunger is also starting to give momentum to an already volatile situation.
“People that are self isolating have no way of sustaining themselves and no-one is taking care of them or bringing them food. I had a situation where some of these people said that they will go out into the community to beg for food and thereby increasing the risk of infection to others even further,” Ipinge said.
He said that he is dumbfounded by the fact the health ministry does not have a practical action framework to mitigate community transmissions or even to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 in Walvis Bay.
He said doctors and nurses at the Walvis Bay District Hospital are fighting a losing battle because the facility is full beyond capacity and since last Thursday people have been presenting with serious symptoms at health facilities.
“There is no ventilator, no ICU nurses, no medication, and no option to transfer critical cases to other more specialised facilities elsewhere in the country. The erection of the military field hospital recently was nothing other than a public relations stunt because it only has two beds with oxygen supply and no medical staff to assist patients,” he said.
Ipinge condemned the pathetic attempts of the health minister to blame the residents of Walvis Bay for his negligence and failure to show leadership when required most.
“It is not rocket science that there is absolute incompetence and inconsistency in your ministry mainly due to you reducing yourself to Public Relations responsibilities rather than take extraordinary measures to properly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as per your mandate. ,” Ipinge said.
The constituency councillor said that he has not received any official response from Dr. Shangula and added that he has since sending the letter been informed by residents that people that live elsewhere in the country are streaming into Walvis Bay unchecked. He said some of these new arrivals have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after their arrival and are now being counted as Walvis Bay cases while the tracing of their original contacts should be done in towns of other regions not just in Walvis Bay.
Ipinge said he refuses to look on any further as Cabinet forces Walvis Bay residents to face preventable harsh conditions as a result of Dr. Shangula’s tribalist, political and exploitation agenda.