Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the emphasis has been on shaping bold solutions to save lives and livelihoods in these unprecedented times. Covid-19 will probably be with us for many years and there appears to be no end in sight considering the growing number of new cases being reported worldwide.
By late afternoon yesterday, nearly 21 million cumulative cases were confirmed globally. Sadly, the pandemic has claimed nearly 750 000 lives across the world, while recoveries stood at 13 800 000.
The situation in Namibia has clearly reached a critical stage and a turning point in the country’s response in mitigating the spread of the virulent pandemic. With 3 544 confirmed cases and 27 deaths, Namibia has a number of confirmed clustered community transmission, with an upsurge of new cases in Windhoek and other parts of the country.
The economic contraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic is staggering. The latest figures from the ministry of labour indicate that Namibia witnessed massive collective retrenchments between April and June this year, when more than 5 700 employees were retrenched by close to 390 employers. Of these employees, some 1 816 were retrenched due to Covid-19 related reasons, while more than 3 900 were retrenched for other reasons.
Some of these jobs may be gone forever, as local labour expert Herbert Jauch stated in an interview with this newspaper last week. International labour experts have also cautioned that only about 50% of retrenched employees around the world will eventually get their jobs back, thereby exacerbating an already-unmanageable economic crisis. Not even massively developed nations are coping with this pandemic.
The Covid-19 lessons are hard, as we all navigate through the situation, into an uncertain future, but fixing our ailing health system will definitely have to be priority number one. For a developing country like ours with many competing interests, aggravated by high unemployment, poor housing and lack of sanitation, the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic will take a number of years to repair.
Yes, it is true that measures adopted by government through a staggered approach to fight the pandemic may have left many without jobs and different sectors bleeding. But these were not easy decisions and it is important that government gets the support of us all as we continue the battle against the outbreak.
There is no need for Covid-19 to divide us. While it is paramount that as citizens continue to take personal responsibility to minimize the risk of spread in our community, Namibia needs solidarity to tackle this virus. We can only win if we embrace compassion. The situation further calls for the private sector, agencies such as CDC and the World Health Organisation, to continue working together and advising government in the fight against Covid-19.