Rose-Mary Haufiku and Maria Hamutenya

Namibia’s COVID-19 death toll continues to grow at an exponential rate, with the country recording over 96 deaths in one month.

Since the outbreak of the virus, the country’s COVID-19 deaths have now surpassed the 500 mark according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), with a total of 502 deaths recorded. This comes after four deaths were announced from Omuthiya, Tsumeb, Gobabis and Mariental districts.

Namibia began its first roll-out of the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine last Friday after receiving 100 000 doses from China, and an additional 30 000 doses of Covishield from India.

As of Wednesday, only 153 people had been vaccinated since the launch of the rollout last Friday, with 103 being from Khomas region and 50 from Erongo. “Both the Sinopharm and Covishield vaccines have double dosages, thus the target is to inject 50 000 people with the Sinopharm vaccine, and 15 000 people with the Covishield vaccine, “MoHSS Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, said.

He, however, said Namibians were free to choose their preferred vaccine when they are being vaccinated. The ministry is set to begin the first rollout of the Covishield doses next week. “The vaccination is voluntary, thus, people have a choice as to which of the two vaccines they would want to be vaccinated with. A person cannot be compelled to take a vaccine they do not want to take, they have a choice to be vaccinated with the dose they prefer,” said Nangombe.

Meanwhile, Government will partner with private sector and for that reason the vaccination will take place at public and private health facilities.

“In Windhoek, Lady Pohamba private hospital and Rhino park private hospital are two of the private health facilities that are expected to play a role in the rollout of vaccinations, together with the Katutura State Hospital and the Windhoek Central Hospital,” Nangombe said.

“In Erongo Region, the Welwitschia Private Hospital will also join the Swakopmund State Hospital and Walvis Bay State Hospital in the vaccination process. The private sector is required and is called upon to play a role in the vaccination process, we will supply the vaccine to the hospitals so it will be free of charge even in private hospitals.”