Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Kalumbi Shangula, is refuting claims about the possibility the delta variant being airborne.
“We have not said so, when we get new medical information, we will inform the public,” Shangula told Windhoek Observer. International media outlets, have quoted medical experts claiming that the Delta variant remains airborne longer than other previous variants. This is after Shangula announced the presence of the Delta variant, which the Health ministry confirmed earlier this month.
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Acting Director in Namibia, Steven Hong, explained that COVID-19 and all known variants spread when an infected person exhales droplets that carry very tiny particles that have the virus. Thus, these droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth, consequently infecting them.
Those who are closer than 6 feet (about 2 m) from the infected person are most liable to get infected. “The largest droplets settle out of the air rapidly, within seconds to minutes. The smallest very fine droplets and aerosol particles formed when these fine droplets rapidly dry, are small enough that they can remain suspended in the air for minutes to hours., “ said Hong.
“The available evidence continues to demonstrate that existing recommendations to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission remain effective. These include physical distancing, community use of well-fitting masks, adequate ventilation, and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces,” he added.
According to Hong, the Delta variant transmission seems more rampant compared to the other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. In addition an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, leading to more hospitalizations and indisputably more deaths. He also spoke on the option of getting vaccinated and the importance of ventilation saying, “these are all measures that are effective in stopping the spread of the virus and reducing the chance of serious illness. Another important factor is ventilation. For example, we know that being outside is safer than being inside, and opening a window is better than meeting in a closed room. There are simple steps we can all take to increase ventilation when we are mixing with others.”
Hong furthermore pointed out that wearing a mask and abiding by covid-19 regulations is “an act of community spirit and kindness that we can all do”, urging people to get safe masks., “We know that some masks are better than others and masks that fit better work better than masks that don’t fit.” “Some data have shown double masking may be more protective. Most important though is to wear masks correctly over your nose and mouth. A mask is not a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 2 meters apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household,” he explained.
Lastly, the CDC Country Acting Director said the wearing of mask is ”effective peer-to-peer teaching and it is something we can all model”, as when one is wearing a mask, it encourages others to wear one as well. In addition he stated that masks are only “necessary when you are outside by yourself, or with people who live in your household. One reason people wear a mask when they are alone is if they are about to meet someone, or are anticipating they will meet someone. It may be easier to be already wearing a mask than to put one on.”
Namibia on 20 July 2021 recorded 467 new COVID-19 confirmed cases. The country has thus far recorded 113 905 cases and 2 620 deaths.