• May 31st, 2020

Doctor dismisses virus cover-up fears… ‘there is no underreporting of coronavirus infections’



The health ministry’s specialist physician Dr Ishmael Katjitae has dismissed fears that government might be deliberately underreporting coronavirus cases.

Namibia still has 16 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 13 recoveries. This means the country only has three active cases at the moment with no death recorded. As at yesterday morning, the country tested 2 381 people. Katjitae, who also serves on the case management committee, said the health authorities are expanding testing to enhance the country’s capacity to diagnose early, isolate and manage infected cases. 
“There is fear in some communities that many cases are being missed, or there is a deliberate underreporting by officials. If this was the case, there would be more hospital admissions due to severe respiratory disease as it was first picked up by the pandemics in China, Italy, and Spain,” he told New Era. 

“The number of those with Influenza-like disease visiting both private and public health facilities would have increased. 
The deaths records would also have shown an increase in unexplained deaths. In fact, at present, we do not see increased hospital admissions or deaths.”

 Katjitae explained all active patients have improved clinically at this time and are stable without symptoms. According to him, the Romanian couple, who was the first to test positive for Covid-19 in the country are yet to test negative in order for them to cleared of coronavirus. 
Namibia uses a test-based approach to end isolation of patients and allow them to join the normal society. This means that patients need to test negative twice after symptoms have ceased. “The Romanian couple has continued to test positive for the virus. This is not unusual as persistent positive tests have been well described in other countries,” Katjitae said.  

“Once the couple tests negative twice, they will be released from isolation and considered as not infectious and fully recovered. Of note, the test does not show if the virus is dead or alive, so it may be that they are already not infectious to others. However, it is currently unknown, and Namibia is using a cautious approach on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines to protect the country.” 
The health authorities consider a patient to have fully recovered when their symptoms have improved and the patient has had two consecutive negative Covid-19 tests at least 24-48 hours apart. 

Katjitae maintained it is not fully known at this time if patients can be reinfected with the virus. However, antibodies to the virus are induced in those who have become infected.  He said when a person recovers from Covid-19 and has had two consecutive negative tests, they can be discharged and no longer need isolation because they are no longer considered to be infectious to other people. 
They can go home at this point, Katjitae said. However, he emphasised, the person should continue to observe physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing of masks in public places when physical distancing cannot be observed.

No Covid-19 death
Meanwhile, health deputy minister Esther Muinjangue clarified that a man who died in a Mariental state hospital on Saturday was diagnosed with pneumonia and his death had nothing to do with Covid-19. She said the patient visited a private doctor in Mariental with the problem of productive cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The patient was admitted on the same day at the Mariental state hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. “Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with our strategy on expanded targeted testing for Covid-19 during stage 2 of the state of emergency regulations, the patient was swabbed for Covid-19, in addition to other investigations. He was kept in the isolation room while receiving treatment,” she explained. She said the patient had an underlying chronic health condition. 

The swab to rule out Covid-19 was taken on Wednesday and sent to Namibia Institute of Pathology in Windhoek for testing. According to her, the initial sample was deemed non-compliant and a second sample was taken on Thursday and also brought to Windhoek. 
In the interim, the patient’s condition deteriorated on Friday and the patient sadly passed on. The laboratory results later came out negative for Covid-19. 

The man was employed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) and identified as Lilungwe Brighton Tembwe. NWR reiterated that the first group that was isolated at its Hardap Dam resort for more than 14 days, between 25 March and 9 April, were all released without showing any symptoms of Covid-19. 
– anakale@nepc.com.na


Albertina Nakale
2020-05-18 09:58:46 | 12 days ago

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