Ministry dismisses COVID-19 second wave fears country sees spike in cases

Andrew Kahindi

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) has dismissed concerns about a second wave of COVID-19 in Namibia.

This is in the wake of a rising number of cases in the past week with 200 new cases recorded since last Friday, 13 November. A second wave of COVID-19 has swept across Europe where most countries beginning to see a spike in numbers again.

In France, a second lockdown was announced after daily COVID-19-related deaths reached their highest levels since April. Germany recorded 23,542 cases last Friday, a record high according to media while Portugal is currently experiencing a second wave believed to be worse than its first.

Health Minister, Kalumbi Shangula, has however rubbished fears t that the second wave has reached Namibia, attributing the rise in recent numbers to confined places such as prisons and hostels. “This is happening in places where people are confined. Places where people are not able to leave, such as prisons and hostels. It’s not from communities,” he told Windhoek Observer.

On Saturday, 14 November, the Minister noted that out of 77 cases recorded countrywide, of the 16 cases reported from Oshana region, 15 are learners, of which 14 are from Okaukuejo Combined School and one from Iipumbu Secondary school.

“All thirteen cases reported from Rehoboth district were in contact with confirmed cases, while all ten cases from Rundu are inmates in the police holding cells, all had been in contact with confirmed cases,” Shangula had said.

The Minister’s comments appear to contradict his statement on Sunday, 15 November, where he noted, “Cases reported from Windhoek are sporadic from different areas. We have noted with concern increasing number of confirmed cases from Rehoboth district. Most of these are contacts to confirmed cases, who were linked to the funeral gathering took place in town.”

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) country Director, Dr. Eric Dziuban, has warned that Namibia, like all other countries, is still vulnerable to a second wave. “Nobody should think this is over or that Namibia is safe from worse outcomes than we’ve already seen. We see the damage that second wave is doing in many other countries right now, and even countries with many more hospitals are seeing them overwhelmed,” he told Windhoek Observer.

He added, “We can help prevent this by not letting our guard down. Wearing masks and social distancing is just as important now as it’s ever been.”

He said that it was still too early to see if the rising numbers of cases in the last couple of days is the start of a new wave or just improvements in testing the communities where transmission has continued.

“In the meantime, we all have a role to play in protecting the progress we’ve made. Health officials will keep maintaining testing in the right places so we can know the status of the virus across Namibia, and the public can keep wearing masks properly and spacing out during gatherings even if the limits have been relaxed.”

“These extra precautions can feel inconvenient, but they are essential for keeping our schools and businesses open, our hospitals operating, and our families healthy.”

This comes as President Hage Geingob was set to deliver announcement’s on governments COVID-19 related interventions. The press conference was however canceled hours to go.

“We regret to inform you that the Covid19 update has been canceled. Sincere apologies,” Press Secretary, Alredo Hengari said.

Namibia has thus far recorded 13 555 COVID-19 cases and 107 COVID-19 deaths and 31 COVID-19 related deaths.

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