The clinical branch chief for the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Namibia Dr Steven Hong said the public health guidance in other countries of not wearing a mask after being fully vaccinated would not be appropriate to apply locally.
The CDC last Thursday said fully vaccinated people in the USA no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 1.8 metres away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. In an interview with New Era yesterday, Hong said that guideline is developed for the USA, based on vaccine efficacy, vaccination coverage and number of cases.
“Other countries may use this guidance to consider changes to their guidance, but it will depend on the vaccination rates and the number of cases in each country. At this stage, it would not be appropriate to apply this guidance to Namibia,” he stressed. The CDC believes there will be a time when fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks, but that will require many more people to get vaccinated. “We can end the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we all have to do our part.
The current percentage of Namibia’s population that has been vaccinated is low, but I am hopeful that with concerted efforts, the country will be able to achieve the target. We must not give up,” said Hong.
He added that Namibia is likely to achieve herd immunity with its target of 60-80%.
“We need individuals to speak up and encourage their friends and family. We trust those around us. If you have been vaccinated, encourage those around you to as well. It might be as simple as offering someone a lift to a vaccination centre, or someone might want to talk about their concerns, and hear your response,” he stated.
Hong said although there is no evidence
that the B.1.617 variant that was detected in India is already in Namibia, it is not impossible that this variant is present because of the high amount of cross-border travel in the SADC region.
“Whether or not this variant is in Namibia, it is important to remain vigilant with public health measures – wear a mask, wash hands, keep our distance, and get vaccinated. We all must prevent the spread of infection.
The health services are there to care for people who are ill. As individuals, we all have a responsibility to stop the spread of the virus,” he urged. Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula
this week said there are enough vaccines in the country, with another consignment expected soon.