As the world reached four million Covid-19-related deaths last Thursday, Namibia crossed the unwelcome milestone of over 100 000 positive cases on that day.
Namibia has now recorded 1 991 fatalities one year after announcing the first loss to the pandemic that has changed the way we live. Namibia recorded its first two positive cases on 13 March 2020, and its first death on 10 July 2020.
In comparison, Namibia recorded 700 deaths and 7 000 disabilities as a result of road accidents in 2018.
By 31 May 2021, Namibia had 830 Covid-19-related deaths. What followed was a brutal June with 726 deaths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recorded 27 June as Namibia’s deadliest day of that month with 95 deaths.
These deaths were fuelled by the lethal Delta variant as well as a vaccination rollout that stumbled out of the starting blocks in March 2021, and stuttered to a halt in early July when the 197 000 doses acquired through donations and purchases largely ran out. To compound the loss of life, misinformation and conspiracy theories have been rife.
Approached for comment during a police patrol this weekend, deputy minister of information Emma Theofelus said “information around Covid-19 is constantly changing, as we all know the virus is a novel virus. It’s new, and every day it’s literally changing, teaching us new things about itself. Healthcare professionals are really trying to be on top of it, and are trying to advise the best way they can.
“Government is using the best information at its disposal to try and educate the citizens for them to make the right choices, and to be protected. So, it’s unfamiliar territory. It’s a very difficult situation, but we are trying our best. We want the citizens to work with us”, she stated, adding that government is trying to balance lives and livelihoods.
“We’re trying to perfect that balance. But it’s still a challenge. Resources are limited, citizens are not complying, the economy is taking a beating and the mental state of our citizens is in dire need of support, so we are really taking a beating from all sides. It’s really a new normal beyond measure,” she stressed.
On Thursday 8 July 2021, the country confirmed that there have been 101 001 infections reported since the pandemic began. By Sunday, that figure rose to 105 595, with only 30 505 having received two doses of the available vaccines. According to the ministry of health’s daily statistics, most of the fatalities have not been vaccinated, although conspiracy theorists have tried to dissuade Namibians from getting inoculated, and used the escalating number of deaths to blame the vaccine for causing deaths.
The recovery rate by yesterday was down to 74%.
Namibia’s picture is not much different from that of Africa as a whole.
Having initially escaped the wrath of the pandemic, the African continent, where less than 2% of the population is vaccinated against Covid-19, experienced its worst surge of cases during the first week of July since the pandemic began, the WHO said recently.
Africa recorded more than 251 000 new Covid-19 cases during the week ending 4 July, a 20% increase from the previous week, and a 12% increase from the January peak. Active cases in Africa recently surpassed 642 000, eclipsing a second-wave peak of 528 000 active cases in January, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, said many countries in every region of the world are seeing sharp spikes in cases and hospitalisations, compounded by fast-moving variants and shocking inequity in vaccination.
Several vaccines have proven effective against the coronavirus globally, including the highly contagious Delta variant, which was confirmed in Namibia last Monday by health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula. He warned the nation that the variant is highly transmissible and causes severe illness and death.
Most countries that reached their community immunity have eased restrictions, and their death rates have dropped sharply.
To date, just under 3.3 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to vaccination data from local governments compiled by the ‘Our World in Data’ project at the University of Oxford.
Theofelus said “I believe that if we work together and we support one another, we can come back better out of this.
Justice minister Yvonne Dausab, who also joined the police patrol, said “we have been responsive. We’ve had some challenges around facilities and infrastructure that I think we are getting an opportunity to rectify. But one of the things about corona is that it has allowed us to look into ourselves and become self-sufficient, and that we need to recognise. But I think government has been responsive to the extent that we are available for the media to provide the information about what’s going on; we’ve also been available to create portions of hope. Hope about this too shall pass, and at some point we will all emerge victorious.