THE possibility of a second wave or a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in Namibia is a stark reality all Namibians will have to face and as result will have to act in such a manner to avoid such a scenario.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula during a briefing from State House earlier on Monday said the health authority, in collaboration with international health bodies, will diligently continue to analyze local, regional and international data to gauge the patterns and projections on the pandemic.
“Considering what we have learnt over the last eight months, Namibia is in a good position to respond effectively,” he said.
Dr. Shangula briefed the nation on the strategy adopted by the government to keep new infection numbers low.
“One of the central tenets of Namibia’s strategy and approach in our National COVID-19 response and preparedness has been and continues to be regular engagement, information sharing and awareness creation so that the public is informed at all material time about the activities on the response front,” he said.
The health minister said that the battle against the pandemic is a fine balancing act, because health officials are dealing with a new disease of which the epidemiology is still evolving.
He said because Namibian health authorities adapted and modified response models developed by institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of the virus, the country is far behind the projected curve, which indicates that the country is ahead in the game.
“Our current testing strategy includes expanded targeted testing of at-risk populations, selected geographic locations where cluster of infections have been confirmed or are suspected, confirmed and suspected contacts of confirmed cases, arriving travellers whose test results are older than 72 hours, Health Care Workers, and other at-risk demographics,” he noted.
Dr. Shangula said the testing capacity in laboratories is now at a nominal level and indicated that the country is considering the introduction of COVID-19 antigen Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT) as part of the country’s response.
“The Laboratory Services Pillar with support from developmental and multilateral partners, have identified WHO pre-qualified antigen rapid diagnostic testing kits that Namibia may use. We have received commitment from development partners to avail 150,000 antigen RDT kits to the country. Once available, antigen testing will be conducted at Port of Entry and for patients requiring emergency surgery,” he said.
Dr. Shangula said Namibia is deemed as a safe destination, which saw an increase in the number of tourists that have visited Namibia since the tourism revival initiative was launched in July.
“Since the start of the implementation of the Tourism Revival Initiative, 4 164 tourists have arrived in the country. Only three tourists among these arrivals with the 72-hours valid Covid-19 negative results have tested positive for COVID-19 to date. Our requirement for a 72-hours valid PCR negative test has eliminated potential infective tourists coming to Namibia,” he said.
He said that besides the excessive use of alcohol, reports of increased cases of domestic and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), as well as the growing numbers of motor vehicle accidents have been the most worrying trend.
“Since the reported decrease in the number of positive cases, a disturbing wave of a false sense of security has swept over our country. For example, it has been observed that many people are no longer wearing face masks when they go out in public. Those who wear masks are not wearing them correctly. Physical distancing is not being observed. People are conducting themselves as if COVID-19 is no longer amongst us,” Dr. Shangula said.
The health minister again urged people to practice the basic prevention measures to avoid a possible second wave of new infections.