The rate of infection has risen sharply over the last 29-days, recording a three-fold increase in the weekly positivity rate, from 2.1% (in the week commencing 11 April) to 7.5% as of 11 May 2022 while the vaccination rate remains low.
At the recent Covid-19 briefing, President Hage Geingob said the rise in new cases has been recorded predominantly in the towns of Windhoek, Rehoboth, Okahandja and Otjiwarongo and is attributable primarily to cluster outbreaks in various primary and secondary schools and hostels.
“It is crucial that we redouble our efforts to safeguard ourselves, families, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Let us remember and apply the basics – these are the weapons of our warfare, against this deadly and invisible enemy. The disease does not move unless we do. Now is the time to increase social and physical distancing and personal vigilance,” stated Geingob.
The current upsurge in the number of new cases is driven initially by the Omicron variant sub-lineage BA.2 and of late by sub-lineage BA.4 which has been conclusively identified in Namibia. It is also suspected that the Omicron sub-lineage BA.5 is also circulating in Namibia. The characteristics of these sub-lineages are almost similar. The descendants of Omicron variant BA.2 could be more contagious but not cause severe disease. The BA.2 possesses immune evasive properties, which may be the reason why Namibia observed a sharp increase in the number of infections during this week.
He was concerned about the attitude Namibians have adopted towards the wearing of masks, especially noting that they are not mandatory.
“There is a worrisome attitude to the wearing of facemasks in public areas and large indoor settings. To be clear, the public is expected to apply sound personal judgement and is therefore required to wear facemasks in all public areas. As our first line of defence in the fight against Covid-19, owners of business establishments should insist on the correct wearing of facemasks as a condition to entry,” he said.
According to Xinhua, Africa has recorded 52 878 Covid-19 cases in the week of 8 May 2022, a 38% rise from the previous week, enabling South Africa to account for 87% of the continent’s recorded cases in the same period.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said: “We have now entered the winter months, which is usually the time of the year when people tend to congregate close to one another, which creates a conducive opportunity for the Covid-19 virus to easily spread from person to person.”
He said the colder temperatures in winter negatively affect people’s immune systems and thus expose them to Covid-19 and other respiratory infections, urging Namibians not to let the guards down, especially observing the upward trends in the epidemiological trajectory.
Shangula stated as of 11 May 2022, Namibia has recorded 159 693 Covid-19 cases out of the 1 016 295 samples tested. Active cases have increased from 296 during the previous briefing to 1 034 currently.
“Unfortunately, eight lives were lost since the last public briefing, bringing the number of deaths to 4 029 since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of deaths increased from seven deaths reported during the preceding 25 days to eight deaths reported during 26 days of this dispensation.
So far, 411 106 Namibians have been vaccinated against the deadly virus. This translates into 23% of the target population of 70% to reach herd immunity.
“Moreover, the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals increased to an average of 17 per day as compared to 12 reported during the preceding 26 days. Similarly, the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to ICU has increased from zero to nine cases currently,” he shared.
The death toll stands at 4 029 or 2.5% of the cases.
The current Covid-19 response measures will lapse at midnight on 15 May 2022, after which a new dispensation, albeit unchanged, will commence on 16 May 2022, until midnight on 15 June 2022.
Public gatherings are capped at 1 000 people, while the wearing of facemasks is not mandatory.