… as cases force organications to close

Andrew Kathindi

The Minister of Health Kalumbi Shangula has warned that community cases without known contacts or travel history have started popping up around the country.

“This means that people are becoming infected in their localities, during their everyday activities,” he said.

Shangula said behavioral change was the only solution that can allow the spread of the virus to be contained in community transmission cases.

“It is time for all Namibians to change our behaviors and do everything we can to reduce our risk. We have seen in Walvis Bay how serious the spread of this virus can be. The risk is real in other parts of the country as well, and today is the time to take it seriously, before the damage to our communities becomes overwhelming,” he said.

This comes as 74 new cases outside Erongo region where announced on Tuesday with Windhoek cases remaining on a daily upward trend.

Cases in Windhoek have led to closure of the MTC call center and Head Office , the National Assembly being forced to send its staff home for 14 days after a staff member tested positive, the Business and Intellectual Property Authority of Namibia being forced to close its offices and the national broadcaster , NBC being forced to place its entire news team on quarantine after one of its newsroom employees tested positive.

Erongo region, which has become the epicenter of COVID-19 in the country has already surpassed projections of 700 cases by August made by Senior Strategic Information Adviser UNAIDS, Alladji Osseni, with a month to spare.

On 1 July, Osseni had warned that Erongo region could record 700 cases by the end of August, however the region currently has 1759 positive cases.

“You look at what fuels the transmission. If you make your projection on the basis that everybody will be distancing themselves, social distancing and adhering to health measures, then you will reach a different conclusion. But then you find people who are demonstrating, they’re not social distancing and all of a sudden there’s a spike. Or people go to funerals and weddings and it only requires one person to infect all of them,” Shangula told Windhoek Observer.

Shangula further noted that predictions are arbitrary and very subjective.

He said the ministry makes plans based on assumptions, and those assumptions are based on the fact that everybody will comply with the measures in place.

“But you know for sure that this is not what is happening. People need to understand the dynamics of the epidemics. Epidemics are unpredictable.”

Meanwhile, Osseni had also predicted 14,000 cases across the country by the end of August should community transmissions begin to develop outside Erongo. He maintained this figure is still on track but revised the date to end of December stating it will take six months to reach those numbers.

“It was a wish to not go beyond that 700 in the best situation, if the epidemic is not spreading like it turned out to. Unfortunately, if the daily figures don’t change, we are going to experience that 14,000. Since we are beginning to get cases in some towns; it is fearful,” Osseni said.