• April 1st, 2020

Coronavirus considered ‘low risk’ for Namibians… WHO says country must leave nothing to chance



Namibia is among the ‘low risk’ countries in Africa to contracting the coronavirus disease, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said yesterday. 

Sagoe-Moses, who addressed the media at the United Nation (UN) House in Windhoek, said Namibia has not reported a confirmed case of the coronavirus, adding the country remained a low risk nation, judging from the volume of travellers to and from China compared to other African states. 

However, he said, this does not mean that the country should relax in its preparation for response and hence the efforts of the country office and the centre coordinating the control of infectious diseases to help the nation meet the International Health Regulations’ requirements. By yesterday afternoon, international reports indicated that the death toll in China from the coronavirus outbreak stood at 1 113, with the number of confirmed cases nationwide totaling 44,653. 

Two deaths have been recorded outside mainland China - one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. Sagoe-Moses says the WHO has mobilised a network of partners, through the R&D Blueprint for Epidemic, to identify, prioritise and accelerate the development of diagnostics, vacancies and therapies needed to combat the virus in the long term.

 He said already a global research meeting was convened this week in Geneva to coordinate efforts across multiple countries and institutions. “We are creating efficiencies for supplies get to those most in need. Our work with global supply and logistics firms ensures the prioritisation of personal protective equipment, diagnostics and essential medicines for first line responders and patients,” he said. He added that the WHO is sending 531 000 masks, 350 000 pairs of examination gloves, 40 000 respirators, 18 000 isolation gowns and other protection equipment to make sure health workers in 24 countries are protected when diagnosing and treating patients that might be infected with coronavirus.

Also, he said, the WHO is sending 250 000 tests to more than 70 reference laboratories globally to facilitate faster testing. Likewise, he said, Namibia was in the process of acquiring the reagents to test for the new virus.  Chief health programme information officer Julia Malule said the health ministry together with the key stakeholders have so far put in place some measures to ensure the country preparedness is strengthened, should a case be confirmed. The National Health Emergency Committee on the coronavirus was activated and chaired by the director of health information and research directorate. This committee, Malule said, is made up by members within the ministry’s various directorates as well as stakeholders within the health sector, Office of the Prime Minister and other government ministries, local authorities, CDC-Namibia and WHO. “Priority activities have been identified and rolled out such as the screening of incoming travelers/visitors at entry points. This has been implemented at 10 major entry points such as Hosea Kutako International Airport, Oshikango, Wenela, Walvis Bay,” she said.

Also, Malule said, the ministry is currently conducting a training of trainers (ToT). “This ToT is being attended by staff members from the regional health directorates. The purpose of this ToT is to share knowledge on what has been established thus far regarding coronavirus,” she explained. Malule said there is a lot of collaboration with stakeholders that is currently going on, of recent, the ministry has received the military mobile hospital that is now erected at the Hosea Kutako International Airport. “This mobile hospital will be used as an isolation unit for coronavirus,” she said. 
-ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na


Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-02-13 07:28:06 | 1 months ago

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