COVID regulations extended . . .as virus variant suspicions surge

Andrew Kathindi

The government has extended the date for enactment of measures currently in place to control the spread of COVID-19 to 3 February.

Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula admitted that the situation has worsened since his last address to the nation on 23 December 2020.

In the Tuesday address, restrictions such as the daily curfew from 9pm to 4am, public gatherings being limited to a maximum of 50 were retained.

Public gatherings are now, however, are not allowed to go beyond two hours and shall not continue beyond 8pm.

The minister also revealed that there is a suspicion that a variant of COVID-19 which has been reported in South Africa and the UK is also in Namibia.

“While it is not confirmed yet, there is a high level of suspicion that the more transmissible and virulent variant of the coronavirus is now circulating in Namibia. Our scientists are currently busy with genome sequencing of samples to determine whether the new variant is present in Namibia,” said Shangula.

The country has recorded a total of 6,402 new cases out of 26,191 test results over the last two weeks.

To date, Namibia has so far recorded a total number of 1,350 healthcare workers who have been infected with COVID-19, including six who have already lost their lives.

The minister further revealed that the Pfizer vaccine, which the country is procuring through the COVAX facility could arrive as early as the end of this month.

The government has already paid N$29.3 million to acquire the vaccine. Official expect to vaccinate 20 percent of the population. However, an additional N$139.6 million is needed to buy all the vaccines required (for the first and second shots).

“Apart from the COVAX facility, there have been engagements with Pfizer on a bilateral basis, China, Russia, and other countries that are making great progress in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines for possible bilateral deals and or donations.”

The country has thus far recorded 29,183 confirmed cases and 271 total deaths.

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