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Govt mulls self-isolation... as virus cases shoot up

2020-07-06  Eveline de Klerk

Govt mulls self-isolation... as virus cases shoot up
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WALVIS BAY – Government would consider self-isolation and self-quarantine for people with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 to ease the burden on the country’s healthcare system. 
Covid-19 cases have spiked to over 400 after record numbers were announced at the weekend. The authorities fork out at least N$900 on average per day for every person that is currently in quarantine at Walvis Bay alone. This is according to executive director of the health ministry Ben Nangombe. 

The health ministry is, thus considering allowing self-isolation and quarantine at home to ease pressure on the government and the ministry depending on cases recorded onwards. 
“We will also be looking at contracting private testing facilities to clear the backlog of testing currently experienced,” Nangombe said last week. 

Walvis Bay currently has over 100 people in quarantine at various privately-owned facilities. Nangombe explained some people have to stay slightly longer in quarantine facilities due to the backlog currently experienced with testing of collected 

“Our team has been working hard around the clock to identify and collect specimens through the active case search initiative. This resulted in the backlog in terms of testing. Unfortunately, the National Institute of Pathology ( NIP) got overwhelmed with the testing. We have since sent a number of specimens to Pathcare for testing too,” Nangombe said. 

Nangombe further explained that the ministry is in the process of roping in other laboratories around the country that can do the testing to also assist NIP and PathCare. 

“We need to collaborate on testing if there are other laboratories around the country that have the capacity to do the test. It is our intention that the results come out as quickly as possible. However, we must take it into account that we are all on unprecedented grounds and are learning through the process. People are working around the clock to release these results, particularly in Erongo,” Nangombe said. 

Nangombe also explained that self-quarantine and isolation are currently not allowed; however, this could be an option in due course. 

“We are definitely looking into the issue of self-quarantine and isolation as an option as the cases evolve as a measure to ease pressure for the government that is paying for almost everyone in quarantine, apart from the facilities availed by institutions,” he said.

Medical perspective

Meanwhile, a Walvis Bay-based private doctor, who spent 18 days in quarantine after coming in contact with a then positive case, said the health ministry should strongly embark on a decentralisation approach when it comes to testing. 
The doctor, who requested anonymity, said Covid-19 is not only a costly exercise for the government but the private medical fraternity and the business sector, as he suffered severe loss of income when he had to spend more days in quarantine after his results were not released on time. 

He said his overall stay was satisfactory, and his family was allowed to drop off his prefered choice of food at the quarantine facility. 

“One should also not expect luxury, as the government obviously caters for the most basic needs in quarantine. However, I would suggest that they look at the food provided by the caterers and also look at some sort of exercising activity for people in quarantine,” he said. “It is very lonely and one might develop mental issues just from being confined to one area. Those who can self-quarantine [should] be allowed to do so to minimise the burden on government,” he suggested. 

Erongo governor Neville Andre on Friday explained that only 1 200 people could be tested through the active case search initiative in Walvis Bay, as NIP experienced a backlog with testing. 

“However, the health ministry in the region will continue with the ongoing active case search and testing of people who have come into contact with [those] identified positive, as well as those with Covid-19-related symptoms,” he said.




2020-07-06  Eveline de Klerk

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