Health ministry gives oxygen supply warning

Andrew Kathindi

Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) is warning people not to change their attitude to COVID-19 as the country’s virus plight could worsen in the coming months due to oxygen supply.

On Monday the ministry confirmed the presence of the Delta variant in the country which is more transmissible and deadlier than other variants. “If we don’t change our behaviour, Namibia is just going to become one big hospital. Where are we going to get the human resources? We don’t buy them off the shelves. All the countries are fighting on their own. In Africa because of the Delta variant, the cases are increasing,” Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, told Windhoek Observer.

“The oxygen we get we import it from somewhere else. It’s not produced here, and as the domestic demand in those countries we get the oxygen from gets higher, they may not be able to supply us with oxygen.” Nangombe’s comments come as earlier this year African countries had to scramble to find alternative solutions for vaccines after the Indian government had put a ban on the export of AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in that country, which impacted the supply of the vaccine through the COVAX facility.

“That is a problem so we need to break the chain of transmission by ensuring we avoid gatherings where this virus can proliferate and be transmitted to other people,” Nangombe pleads. Around 20 people were arrested over the past weekend for contravening COVID-19 regulations during funeral celebrations in which a firearm was discharged.

Last month, the ministry also faced a shortage of oxygen supply after Intaka Technology Namibia, a company owned by Knowledge Katti did not have the capacity to meet the growing demands of more and more patients going into ICU during the start of the third wave in the country.

While the government has since bought more oxygen, the situation remains precarious.

Last week President Hage Geingob warned that according to expert opinion, the Third Wave of the COVID-19 pandemic could yet reach its peak in August, stating that the rising incidence curve, during this third wave, is expected to peak around mid-August, and may continue well until mid-September.

“COVID-19 will not be defeated in the hospitals; it will not be defeated through the provision of oxygen. COVID-19 will be defeated when the people change their behaviour,” the Health ED said.

This comes as on Wednesday Namibia reported 1 286 new COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths. The country has to date recorded a cumulative 99 808 cases and 1 742 deaths.

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