• September 26th, 2020

PDM calls for widespread Covid-19 testing

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa 

The Popular Democratic Movement has called on government to re-evaluate its protocol and to start testing for Covid-19 on a larger scale as a matter of urgency. 
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula yesterday morning, at the Covid-19 daily update, announced the country recorded two more cases of Coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 16.
Shangula said the new confirmed cases involved a teacher who had contact with a South African, as well as a doctor who travelled to that country. PDM treasurer general Nico Smit said with a comparatively small population, government is in the unique position to be able to test almost all of its citizens in a relatively short period of time. 
However, he said, the official protocol is that only those showing symptoms for Covid-19 are being tested.  “This is problematic for two widely publicised reasons. Firstly, an infected person may show symptoms between two to fourteen days of being infected, and secondly, an infected individual can pass on the Covid-19 virus to other people without being symptomatic,” Smit said. 
“PDM, therefore, requests the government to revaluate this protocol and to begin testing for Covid-19 on a larger scale as a matter of urgency.”
Furthermore, Smith said, the party opined that there is a lack of adequate information released by government on its readiness to combat the virus in the event of a significant increase in the confirmed cases of Covid-19.  
“At present, the Namibian public is not privy to key information, such as the number of ventilators available, how many Covid-19 test kits there are in Namibia, whether there are enough masks available for health workers, and whether all health and essential workers like police and refuse collectors have personal protective equipment. The PDM is of the belief that it is every Namibian’s right to have access to the above critical information,” he added. 
Smit also called for openness and transparency around the N$8.1 billion Covid-19 economic stimulus package announced by finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi last week. 
“Our point of departure is that, given the fact that the Namibian economy has been in recession since 2016, it is no stretch of the imagination to conceive that the country has limited, if any, fiscal space and that its reserves and savings are all but depleted,” Smit said. 
Smit further called on Shiimi to brief the nation on the impact of the Covid-19 virus on employment, specifically the number of jobs that have been lost and still will be lost, and the effect on small and medium enterprises of the decision to halt business activity for a majority of sectors. 
“What is the logic behind prohibiting the sale of general items found in supermarkets? How will stopping the sale of cigarettes or clothes and shoes, for example, stop the spread of Covid-19 if these items are sold in the same stores that remain open to sell food? It does not make sense,” he questioned.
– ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na 

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-04-06 10:25:29 | 5 months ago

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