The government plans to increase the isolation bed capacity to 2 024 to address the overflowing number of patients in hospitals amid the continuing surge in cases, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said yesterday.
“In the next few days, government will commission two field hospitals in Windhoek and Oshakati, with the capacity of 70 and 40 beds, respectively,” Shangula said during yesterday’s ‘family meeting’ where government announced new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He said another building at the Katutura State Hospital complex, with a capacity of 46 beds and the Katutura Hospital Nurses Hall have been repurposed and will also be opened for use in the coming days.
“Another 100-bed unit will be constructed at Katutura Intermediate Hospital soon. The site works have commenced. This will increase the number of isolation beds to 2 024 countrywide and enhance access to medical care for those who will need it most,” said Shangula.
He said there are 1 732 isolation beds countrywide, in the public and private sectors, of which 143 are ICU beds.
Furthermore, Shangula said by Tuesday, there were 35 503 doses of vaccines in different districts around the country, of which 12 195 are AstraZeneca and 23 311 are Sinopharm.
He said some five districts have exhausted their allocated stock of AstraZeneca vaccine, while two districts have used up all the allocated Sinopharm doses.
“Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect our country against the onslaught of this dangerous pandemic,” he stressed.
He said as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance, even the first dose provides important protection against Covid-19.
Shangula reiterated that the available doses will be used to vaccinate those receiving the first dose as well as identified persons considered to be at the highest risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and death.
He urged Namibians to stand together to fight and defeat the infodemic of false information and conspiracy theories.
“I urge all Namibians to form a united front in order to continue combating this pandemic. Assuring the continuity and uninterrupted vaccination in order to reach herd immunity is an ongoing pursuit,” he said.
“It requires a combined effort from all stakeholders, using each and every tool in our arsenal,” he added.
He said according to guidance from the WHO, a delayed administration of the second dose of the vaccine will not adversely affect individuals.
In fact, he said, the administration of the second dose may be delayed for up to 6 weeks.
“The delivery of vaccines to the country has been delayed and we are working day and night engaging manufacturers and through diplomatic channels to get the vaccines soonest,” he said.
He said the country has paid up in full for 108 000 doses of AstraZeneca via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility.
To date, he said 67 200 doses have been delivered while the balance of 40 800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to reach the country during this month.
“We have also finalised orders for doses of Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. We await the delivery of these vaccines in the coming weeks and months,” he explained.
Since the launch of the vaccination campaign in April this year, Shangula said the country has to date received 197 200 doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
“The majority of these doses have been used up and only a limited stock remains. We will continue to vaccinate at sites where vaccine stocks are still available,” he said, adding that this is the international best practice as other countries that have faced vaccine supply constraints have done the same.
“The fact of the matter is that some protection is better than none,” said the health minister.