Andrew Kathindi

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, has ruled out further restrictions after admitting they are not likely to change anything, despite raising concerns of a steady rise in cases.

The government last week gazzetted new regulations that were put in place after the state of emergency ended, under the Public and Environmental Act. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited unless for school, work or government business, under the new laws while taxis continue to only carry three passengers.

While the health minister has raised concerns of cases rising in crowded places, he has however ruled out further plans on tightening the grip. “We’re not looking into that at the moment. The regulations are quite sufficient and what we are focusing on now is public awareness, for the people to be more health conscious,” he told Windhoek Observer.

He further said, “Even if you make regulations, it won’t change anything. There is nothing else you can do regulate at places like hostels and prisons, what we are saying is to just keep wearing masks, sanitize and wash your hands and stick to social distancing.”

Under the Public and Environmental Act, the Minister is empowered to order the “inspection of premises and articles and remedying of sanitary or other defects likely to favour the spread or render difficult the eradication of the disease.” Among other stringent measures, the Health Minister could also call for “the evacuation, closing, alteration or, if considered necessary, the demolition or destruction of a premises the occupation or use of which is considered to likely help the spread or render more difficult the eradication of the disease.”

This comes as this week, 144 learners at a Senior Secondary School in Onandjokwe district, Oshikoto Region tested positive for COVID-19. “We are observing a number of learners testing positive for Covid-19, especially in boarding schools and also the cases from police holding cells. This is true for Onandjokwe, Eenhana, Rundu and Usakos districts,” the Health Minister said.

He added, “All stakeholders involved should continue putting all efforts to contain the transmission in the closed setting. Equally important, the community members in these areas should be extra vigilant.”

So far, 345 learners, across the country have tested positive for COVID-19. Oshikoto region recorded the highest number with 170 (49.3%) followed by Khomas region with 68 (19.7%).

Shangula said it was likely that there has been an active transmission at the school for a while which was not noticed.

This also comes after 11 cases were reported at a Rundu police holding cell.

“We have a situation of the overcrowded places. All confirmed cases came from police holding cells. It is advised that inmates are tested for Covid-19 before they are transported to other places for court hearing or related activities.”

Namibia has to date confirmed 11 265 cumulative confirmed cases and 121 COVID-19 deaths.