• July 14th, 2020

Poor sanitation, lack of housing exacerbate virus... as Covid-19 cases hit 183

Eveline de Klerk and Selma Ikela

The Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday announced that Namibia to date has 183 confirmed cases of Covid-19 of which 159 are active.   At least 24 people have recovered while  8 706 samples were tested. The number of people currently in quarantine in the country stands at 868 while 2 905 have been discharged from mandatory quarantine.
Meanwhile, more than 10 million cases of the new coronavirus have been officially declared around the world, half of them in Europe and the United States, according to an AFP tally at 0930 GMT Sunday based on official sources.
At least 10 003 942 infections, including 498 779 deaths have been registered globally.

Europe remains the hardest hit continent with 2 637 546 cases including 195 975 fatalities, while the United States has 2 510 323 infections including 125 539 deaths.
The rate of infections worldwide continues to rise, with one million new cases recorded in just six days.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases and some do not have the capacity to carry out widescale testing.
In a related development, Farm 37 at the coast would have been ideal to relocate Walvis Bay residents living in overcrowded rooms and shacks.
This was according to Walvis Bay mayor Wilfred Immanuel in response to concerns raised  by journalists on Friday at the governor’s press briefing.

The journalists specifically highlighted the challenges vulnerable residents face in terms of Covid-19 and how the lack of decent living conditions and sanitation facilities is assisting spreading the virus in such communities.
Immanuel said the council is aware of the situation and will deliberate today to see how they can intervene and assist its residents cope with the high transmission rate.

“Farm 37 would have been ideal to help us but one cannot relocate people where there is no water or sanitation facilities. However, we take into account that more than 50 000 people at the town live in backyard shacks. Apart from them we are also aware that many people were evicted since this crisis started,” Immanuel explained.
The town has recorded over 100 Covid-19 cases as it battles to get isolation and quarantine facilities ready to accommodate the increasing number of cases.  

Meanwhile, stakeholders in collaboration with the health ministry are currently looking at more accommodation establishments at the coastal towns that would be able to be used as isolation facilities for the increasing number of Covid-19 patients in the region, specifically Walvis Bay.
Heath director for  Erongo Anna Jonas on Friday said they have to find more facilities in addition to those that were provided by the municipalities, due to the increasing number of positive cases in the region.
“As we speak, we are using other establishments, especially within Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, which have all been assessed and approved by environmental health practitioners,” Jonas said.
Jonas also said that they identified a clinic at Walvis Bay to deal specifically with Covid-19 cases to allow the remaining clinics to continue dealing with normal health issues.

This, she says, was done to intensify the town’s capacity  in providing more isolation facilities and a hands-on approach to deal with the virus surge at the town.

Spread to other regions not ruled out
Meanwhile, specialist physician Dr Ishmael Katjitae said the possibility of widespread Covid-19 community transmission to other parts of the country couldn’t be ruled out. However, Katjitae said the extent of transmission might not be to the degree seen in other countries with very high population densities. Katjitae said the epidemic in Namibia is still evolving. 
“Initially we only had sporadic cases but we are now faced with a cluster of community transmission in Erongo region,” added the doctor.
But he said efforts are being made to interrupt the chain of transmission of Covid-19 in Walvis Bay and thereby reduce the risk of widespread community transmission. 

Katjitae said efforts put in place include widescale community testing, isolation and treatment of those found to be positive, tracing and quarantining the contacts of confirmed cases and emphasising public health measures such as social distancing, handwashing and sanitising, as well as cough etiquette. 

But he said that currently the response is being faced with the challenge of inadequate isolation and quarantine facilities in Erongo.
According to Jonas, other establishments, especially within Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, which have all been assessed and approved by environmental health practitioners, are already being used.
- sikela@nepc.com.na

Eveline de Klerk
2020-06-29 09:27:50 | 15 days ago


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