Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday advised Namibians, particularly government officials, to avoid face-to-face meetings with international participants and to rather use information technology (ICT) to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a pandemic yesterday.
Shangula suggested the use video-conferencing, webinars and skype calls to conduct meetings.
He said the SADC ministers of health, during an emergency Covid-19 extraordinary meeting on Monday, which also resolved to temporarily suspend regional face-to-face engagements with member states until the spread of coronavirus has been contained, took this decision.
“As for Namibia, all gatherings involving international participants must be conducted within the ambit of the SADC decision,” Shangula told journalists yesterday.
Shangula also announced that six suspected cases of coronavirus infections in Namibia have tested negative.
In total, nine cases were reported, with Windhoek handling four suspected cases, two in Lüderitz, two in Rehoboth and one in Onandjokwe.
The health ministry is still waiting for two outstanding results.
As coronavirus fears take grip of South Africa with 13 confirmed cases by yesterday, Shangula said Namibia continues to strengthen her preparedness to deal with eventualities that may result from the virus outbreak.
He said the preparation includes putting in place capacities for screening and laboratory testing for suspected cases.
“I wish to inform the nation that in addition to screening capacities at our ports of entry, the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) is able to carry out confirmatory tests on suspected cases to date,” he assured the nation.
He said the capability of the NIP to conduct these tests places the country among a few African countries that can contact such tests domestically.
“We highly appreciate and are encouraged by the support provided by government towards the ongoing efforts to strengthen our readiness,” he said.
Also, he said the multi-sectoral National Health Emergency Management Committee (NHEMC) was strengthened and is now chaired by the executive director of the health ministry, Ben Nangombe.
He said bi-weekly meetings would be held to closely monitor the situation.
Shangula also said all 14 regions have participated in the training for coronavirus preparedness and response.
According to him, government in collaboration with key stakeholders conducted a national training of trainers on coronavirus.
“These trainers have been deployed to the regions in order to train workers and stakeholders for coronavirus preparedness and response.
Furthermore, he said, government procured and dispatched personal protective equipment to all 14 regions.
In addition, he said, a toll-free-number has been opened for members of the public to receive necessary information on coronavirus disease and to communicate any queries to the relevant authorities.
The toll-free-number is 0800100100.
According to Shangula, an emergency centre is also operational and the ministry has also appointed the incident manager for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the ministry of information said government would continue with preparations for the Independence Day celebrations despite the growing fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
“As long as the sun is out on 21 March, as long we are breathing on that particular day, government will go ahead with celebrations of the 30th Independence Day as well as the inauguration of President Hage Geingob,” the ministry’s executive director Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana has said.
“We are not going to beat people out of their houses but true patriotic Namibians will come-out in numbers to celebrate their country’s milestone as well as the inauguration of their democratic elected president.”
Caption (Shangula): Reassuring…Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula.