Namibia is yet to detect the delta Covid-19 variant, which was first detected in India and has now spread to more than 80 countries. Namibia has been classified as one of the many African countries where there is growing concern over Covid-19 variants.
This comes after Germany considered the country as an area of variant of concern with effect from yesterday, owing to sharply rising Covid-19 cases and deaths in the last couple of weeks. Thus far, two Covid-19 variants have already been confirmed in Namibia.
They are the (B.1.351) from South Africa and United Kingdom’s (B.1.1.7).
In an interview yesterday, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe told New Era that they did not find the deadly delta (Indian) variant in Namibia.
“We haven’t found it here. The genome sequencing did not identify the delta variant here in Namibia,” he said. Countries such as neighbours South Africa and Botswana have recorded cases of the Indian variant, while confirmed cases have also been detected in Asia and some parts of Europe.
New infections of Covid-19 have been rising, especially in Windhoek, which has been declared the epicentre. By Saturday, there were 1 403 new Covid-19 confirmed cases from 3 569 results, which represents a disturbing 39% positivity ratio. Just last week, Namibia’s classification, as a high-risk destination was described as a huge blow to the already struggling tourism sector due to uncontrollable levels of Covid-19 new infections and deaths. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) had issued a warning to travellers against travelling to Namibia due to the escalating Covid-19 cases, placing the country under alert level four.
The CDC indicated on its website, “Avoid travel to Namibia. If you must travel to Namibia, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel. Because of the current situation in Namibia, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants.
Travellers should follow recommendations or requirements in Namibia, including wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others.”
Neighbouring South Africa was classified as an area of variant of concern since 13 January 2021. This means the country has already been listed as a basic risk area since 15 June 2020. The Hospitality Association of Namibia CEO Gitta Paetzold said it is the worst scenario that tourism could have contemplated.
She, however, said HAN is awaiting further announcement from airlines, hence she is not sure yet whether passenger flights may continue as per the current schedule. Meanwhile, Namibia Tourism Board CEO Digu //Naobeb contributed saving livelihoods through tourism will take a back seat, whilst all efforts are made to vaccinate the general populace to gain herd immunity level, which is critical for Namibia’s high risk destination status to be reviewed to positive.
“This is a serious setback for the tourism and travel industry as many travellers will be weary and more careful than ever before in deciding to travel to Namibia. Thus, concerted efforts that were, and are being made to revive the tourism restart initiative will also be gravely thwarted,” he reacted to Namibia’s classification as a variant of concern.
//Naobeb said people cannot blame the Namibian government per se as it is trying to achieve the required immunity levels amongst the challenge of misinformation and disinformation campaigns around the effectiveness and efficacy of the vaccines to combat Covid-19.