WALVIS BAY - The abandoned 150-bed isolation facility for Covid-19 patients at Walvis Bay has come back to haunt the region, which is fast becoming an infection hotspot.
The isolation facility was launched with much excitement in March by the Walvis Bay Urban constituency risk disaster management team in collaboration with the Welwitschia private hospital and the business community.
The plan was to convert shipping containers into isolation units. The facility was planned outside the Walvis Bay state hospital. Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge yesterday blamed bureaucracy for the project’s failure to take off.
The town is increasingly running out of isolation beds as more positive cases are being reported at the town. At least seven people have tested positive for Covid-19, while several others are currently in quarantine.
Ipinge said it is now too late to ask the business sector to chip in for the construction of the facility, as companies have to put their employees and needs first.
“We should have acted while they were willing to do so and we can only blame ourselves now for sleeping on their offer,” Ipinge said. During the groundbreaking ceremony, CEO of the Welwitschia private hospital Mathias Braune said the facility would house beds, ablution facilities, staff accommodation, a kitchen, mortuary and simply serve as an isolated facility for Covid-19. The facility was expected to be completed within three weeks after it was launched. As part of the initiative, CNUC’s Rössing Uranium donated an oxygen plant. Erongo governor Neville Andre on 1 June during his weekly updates told journalists they have finally received approval from the various ministries to continue the project, which in the meantime was split into two phases.
The first phase is the refurbishment of the old Tuberculosis ward. The second phase will now include the containerised facility. Andre yesterday confirmed that the town is running out of space for isolation, but also said that the National Youth Service facility in Henties Bay could be used to accommodate 600 people also as an option. He also added that the renovations to the TB ward is expected to be completed today and can accommodate about 16 people. As for the delay in the container facility, Andre said that the health ministry had to submit documents for approval to the works ministry before construction of the facility could commence.
“Yes, one can say it is bureaucracy. However, we should take into consideration that the health ministry has to first figure out what are the financial implications for the ministry and what will happen to the facility, despite the fact that it is a donation,” Neville said yesterday. Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe earlier also told New Era that the facility was split into two phases and that the isolation facility will go ahead as planned. – firstname.lastname@example.org