Andrew Kathindi

Government is yet to implement its expanded testing organized program in Windhoek, which has led to long lines at the Robert Mugabe Clinic where swabs are collected for the general public that has no private insurance.

This comes nearly a week after Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula raised concerns over rising cases in the capital city, as 152 cases were recorded this week in Windhoek within two days as community transmission without known contact traces becomes prevalent.

Health Executive Director, Ben Nangombe said the Ministry will create more spaces for people to be able to be swabbed so that samples can be tested, but was mum on when exactly this will be done.

“The concern you have is exactly the same concern I have, that people are not practicing social distancing. If Robert Mugabe is full, we are now saying we are expanding the testing, which means more swabbing sites, more laboratories,” Nangombe told Windhoek Observer.

“Robert Mugabe is full because people are flocking to that clinic. There will be other areas. Those areas will be communicated very soon. People will know exactly where very soon. It will include a number of places, including mobile units to do the swabbing in different parts of the city. I will have to talk to my team as to exactly when they are ready to get into the field.”

Justice Minister, Yvonne Dausab on Wednesday also raised concern about overcrowding at the clinic.

“People at Robert Mugabe Clinic continue to violate social distancing measures. It’s important that people maintain social distancing, particularly at testing centers,” she said.

This comes as the Health Ministry last week increased its testing capacity following months of weekly backlogs of late results caused by the number of taken samples exceeding the testing threshold.

Shangula explained last week that other laboratories such as NAMDEB and UNAM came on board to do testing while two other laboratories are being prepared to be able to do COVID-19 tests, however the process of swabbing remains an issue for Windhoek as it is only done at Robert Mugabe Clinic.

Windhoek is now considered to be the country’s new epicenter for COVID-19, a position which has led President Hage Geingob to revert the entire country back to stage 3 of the lockdown measures.

According to the Health Minister, the ministry as part of its fight against COVID-19, has to date spent 52 percent of its N$720 million COVID-19 emergency budget (amounting to around N$400 million) announced in May by Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi is his maiden budget.