Omaheke has recorded 20 Covid-19 related deaths from January to May this year.
The region’s spokesperson Tauno Iileka yesterday said this prompted a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday chaired by governor Pijoo Nganate to address the increasing number of Covid-19 deaths in the region.
Compared to the 11 deaths recorded between August and December last year, Iileka said 20 deaths were recorded from January to 18 May this year, representing 65% of
the total deaths in the region.
According to him, the regional Covid-19 response team said most of the Covid-19 deaths are caused by delays in testing and by patients delaying to seek medical attention until it becomes too late for treatment.
During the meeting, attended by the Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee, Nganate raised concern regarding various factors contributing to the rapid spread of coronavirus.
He said overcrowding in shebeens, non-adherence to Covid-19 public health regulations and irresponsible behaviour
by the community, as well as poor enforcement of such regulations, are all contributing factors to the spread of the coronavirus. Nganate, further urged private medical practitioners to properly screen patients with flu-like symptoms, adding that patients with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 are sometimes sent home or given over-the-counter medication without proper screening against Covid-19, which delays testing and proper treatment.
Dr Sarel Barnard, a private doctor in Gobabis, said the delay in testing by the private medical practitioners is sometimes caused when patients who need to be tested for Covid-19 do not have the N$800 required for private testing. Therefore, these patients are only treated for symptoms and sent home. To avoid such delays, the meeting agreed that private doctors should swab patients suspected
of Covid-19 but cannot afford to pay for
private testing and send the samples for testing by the State to quarantine such patients immediately. Due to the high costs of Covid-19 testing, the regional health directorate will provide implementation modalities on Covid-19 testing by the private sector on behalf of the State.
The meeting further tasked the traditional authorities to engage their communities to limit traditional mourning rituals and cultural practices, such as close contact between mourners, crowding and extended periods of performing rituals. Such practices are sometimes done under unhygienic conditions. These rituals and practices have been identified as contributing factors to the spread of the virus, in addition to non-adherence to public health measures during burials. The regional Covid-19 response team has seen more Covid-19 cases after burials in the region since the regulations on burials were relaxed. Otjinene constituency councillor Erwin Katjizeu said although the police are called to enforce public health regulations during burials, they are at times overpowered by the large gatherings, as only two police officers would show up.