Prof. Makala Lilemba
It is another festive season and many Namibians tend to crisscross the country to be either with their families or heading to leisure resorts. There will be many routes, which will ultimately deliver them to their destinations. In the process, they are likely to mingle with others from different angles and backgrounds.
The most important route will be from the coastal towns to the northern regions, followed by inter and intra movements among different towns. The movements between villages will also be important as the new arrivals from the coastal towns and other towns will be eager to visit their relatives whom they might have last seen in January this year. The residents in towns, which were under lockdown for many months, will surely be willing to travel and get some fresh air.
The second wave of travellers will be Namibians getting out of the country for either business or just tourists. This group of travellers needs corona- virus-free- clearance from the health authorities, before being allowed to leave the country. The process of testing and getting the results takes up to five days at most. It is the clarity of the policy of testing where there are issues. People have been tossed around from one point to the other and vice versa. From my experience, there are three contradicting stances on the issue of testing:
Some nurses and doctors maintain that testing is free
Others advocate that those wanting testing should pay anything from N$865 to N$1 685 per person.
Those being tested should use medical aid, but the government medical aid cannot pay for the testing.
It becomes even more unconvincing when it is a well-known fact that N$8.1 billion was set aside for testing and monitoring the virus. It is even too difficult to imagine that the money could be exhausted faster like this when Namibia is only 2.8 million and still not everyone was tested. What happens to the money being paid for testing? It is strange that even people who want their results are being asked to pay for testing. Why should these people pay for testing when they are not tourists?
The third group of people are Namibians and other permit holders coming back to Namibia. This group need to be in possession of a coronavirus free document, which is not more than 72 hours old. The Ministry of Health is clear that if one does not have this document, then the person should be quarantined. This is also a nightmare in other countries where borders have been opened for people to travel. In Zambia, it is also a similar case like Namibia where officials keep on contradicting themselves on the issue of payment. Similarly, some nurses and doctors agree testing should be free, while others maintain that amounts ranging from K600 to K2700 per person should be paid.
It is a fact that during these travels and interactions, it is highly likely that one can contract the virus. That is why restrictions are being imposed on carelessly-mindedness travellers in order to curb or minimize the chances of spreading the virus. Government has laid down the guidelines of preventing the virus from spreading very fast such as sanitizing, social distancing and wearing masks.
It is saddening to note that the majority of people have not taken these measures seriously. Go to any office, shop, public gathering such as church services and funerals, people are not wearing masks and are very casual and careless in their dealings despite the fact that the numbers of cases are rising on a daily basis
Maybe it is better to look at what another corona-virus-conscious person has to say about the value of wearing a mask:
Wearing a mask does not make me weak, scared, stupid or even controlled. It makes me caring and responsible.
I’m educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and still give you the virus
I don’t live in fear of the virus, I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem
I don’t feel like the government controls me I feel like I am an adult contributing to the security in our society and I want others to do the same
If we could live with the consideration of others in mind, the whole world would be a much better place
Many governments are discouraging their people from undertaking unnecessary long trips but motivating them to stay at home during the festive season with the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of the virus. Namibians will do themselves a good service if they emulate others who prefer to stay at home during the festive season infested with Covid-19.