Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula says the lack of funds and isolation facilities as well as possible importation of coronavirus into the country are among the many reasons currently hampering the repatriation of over 500 Namibians trapped in coronavirus-hit China.
“Any consideration to repatriate must, as a matter of necessity and strategic national security interest, be weighed against implications of possible importation of coronavirus into Namibia, medical imperatives, human resources, isolation/ quarantine facilities and financial resources,” Shangula told lawmakers in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Shangula said there are currently over 500 Namibians living in China and to repatriate them the country’s initial estimated coronavirus responses plan will need about N$50 million.
“We will need flight tickets from China, accommodation facilities, provision of medical services to those who need it as well as the deployment of health professionals,” he said.
Additionally, the challenge of providing them with appropriate medical services will also be daunting, said the health and social services minister.
“Our isolation facilities are nowhere enough to accommodate such a big number of people. Medical considerations with respect to the possible importation of coronavirus into Namibia are critical. Currently, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus,” he said.
Shangula says if Namibia is to maintain the status quo, the risk of exposing the virus to the rest of the country will be very low.
“Our students in China do not suffer financial hardship as the Chinese government is supplying the necessities including free accommodation, food and medicals,” Shangula said, adding that communication with students is also constantly being maintained.
Furthermore, Shangula called on Namibians to remain calm and shy away from spreading false information that is circulating on social media.
“As we focus on coronavirus, let us not lose sight of the big elephant in the room. Here I am referring to hepatitis E, which is also a viral disease like coronavirus. Hepatitis E outbreak in Namibia also deserves our undivided attention,” he said. Meanwhile, eNCA yesterday reported that a first case of coronavirus in South Africa has been confirmed. According to the media outlet, a 38-year-old man was tested positive for the (Covid-19) virus in KwaZulu-Natal. “The man recently travelled to Italy and has been in self-isolation since.”
Over 90 000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide.
More than 3,000 people have died globally, the vast majority in China. Over 100 people in Italy have died, where over 3 000 people have tested positive.