With cases of coronavirus rising worldwide, former minister of health Bernard Haufiku has advised Namibians against travelling to Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe unless absolutely necessary.
Haufiku, who is now special adviser on health matters in the Presidency, said Namibians should minimise travelling to any country at present but especially to Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe.
“There is no vaccine one can take against coronavirus at present. And when you have symptoms such as fever, headache, coughs, please report to the nearest healthcare facility or person without delay,” Haufiku said when speaking to New Era over the weekend.
He further advised Namibians to maintain a clean personal hygiene record at all times.
“Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or your elbow or just something when coughing or sneezing. Wear an N95 mask or even just a simple one when in crowded or risky places such as airports,” he said.
He said the coronavirus, now known as Covid-19, is one of the most virulent viruses in modern history and has a real potential to wreak havoc on many more countries, especially those with porous borders and weak and non-resilient healthcare systems, including sub-Saharan Africa.
According to him, the unfortunate and perhaps unavoidable thing is the fact that more countries will still be affected, many people will be infected and the death toll will increase before it decreases.
“This is the unfortunate but hard reality. That is the usual trajectory of disease outbreaks and epidemics,” he said.
However, he said, the good thing is that the global community, if working together and better coordinating its efforts, has the potential and even capacity to stem the epidemic, curtail its trajectory and shorten its lifespan.
Haufiku was last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the invitation of the African Union, which through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), held an emergency meeting of African health ministers and key officials.
He said the meeting focused on preparedness for and management of the coronavirus epidemic and also set guidelines on a common African position and approach regarding the epidemic.
In addition, he said Africa CDC in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners such as the International Council of Air Transport Organisations (ICAO) and the hospitality industry, have formed what is called the African Taskforce on Coronavirus (AFRICOR) to coordinate the continent’s efforts aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
Haufiku says the meeting in Addis Ababa also highlighted three main principles as far as African preparedness and response to coronavirus outbreak is concerned.
“The three main principles include coordination, communication and collaborations,” he said.
“There is a need to standardise our interventions and prevention strategies across the continent; the strengthening of the five main pillars of response by all African member states have also been proposed by AFRICOR and endorsed by the emergency meeting.”
He said the five pillars are surveillance, preparedness, laboratory testing capacity or case detection, clinical case management and community engagement and community education and prevention of misinformation.
On his part, health minister Kalumbi Shangula advised Namibians to remain calm and conform to the ministry’s directives, especially regarding personal and environmental hygiene.
“We remain prepared to deal with any imported case,” Shangula said.
Meanwhile, the first confirmed case in Africa was reported last week in Nigeria.
An Italian man has been confirmed to be Nigeria’s first coronavirus case after arriving from Milan on 24 February.
Italy is the worst hit in Europe by the coronavirus outbreak.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide had reached nearly 87 000 as of Sunday, with more than 7 000 cases outside mainland China, where the outbreak began late last year. The virus has now been detected in at least 60 countries, while over 2 800 deaths have been reported.
Out of control… A volunteer disinfects a colleague outside a hotel where recovered patients spend a 14-day quarantine in Wuhan.
2020-03-02 07:20:10 | 28 days ago