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Tension, fear as virus spreads

2020-06-22  Eveline de Klerk

Tension, fear as virus spreads
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WALVIS BAY – The local business community as well as the regional councillor for Walvis Bay Urban have blamed the health directorate in Erongo for the rising Covid-19 infections. 
The town of Walvis Bay has become a hotspot for Covid-19 after 12 new positive cases were recorded at the weekend. The local stakeholders, who form part of a regional task team, now want Erongo regional health director Anna Jonas and chief medical officer Dr Amir Shaker to step down for apparently failing the region.  

The task team, Community Care - Covid-19, consists of political leaders, government officials and the private sector. It is accusing the two senior health officials in the region of not being transparent and honest with central government regarding the Covid-19 response. 
“They have done absolutely nothing for the past three months and now the community has to suffer. We were ready to assist as President Hage Geingob – during the first lockdown stage – called on the private sector to assist government in the fight against Covid-19. But we were subjected to begging just to help the government,” said Anton Pretorius who is part of the task team and a shareholder in Namdock. 
The town has seemingly run out of isolation beds and quarantine facilities after a total of 20 cases were reported at the town, including the 12 positive infections recorded within three days. A 150-bed isolation facility also supported by the private sector has also failed to take off, with governor Neville Andre last week citing bureaucracy delays. 

But this, according to Pretorius, should be blamed on the regional health leadership. “Simply because the local health leaders were not transparent and used bullying tactics to delay the project. 

We are in this position because of their condescending inability to listen, hear and understand the needs and expectations of the people of the Walvis Bay Rural and Urban constituencies,” Pretorius added.
Swapo’s information and mobilisation officer Claudius Ikera in the region said the task team has been working hard to finalise the isolation facility. 

“Internal politics caused the delay despite supporting documents being [provided] on time.  Simply put, support from the top was not there,” he said. 
Walvis Bay Urban councillor Knowledge Ipinge who also chairs the constituency’s risk disaster management committee also did not pull any punches yesterday. “That is why we are asking for Shaker and Jonas to resign. They have failed the people of Walvis Bay. We should take ownership and responsibility. I failed the people of Walvis Bay also even though I submitted recommendations of which I still cannot provide answers because of bureaucracy,” Ipinge said yesterday.  

He added that “all we wanted was approval” for the model they submitted to assist the government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. 
“Give us the approval, we will raise the money and get the teams on the ground to do the work,” he said. 
Both Jonas and Shaker were contacted over the weekend on the matter but declined to comment. 
The health ministry’s executive director Ben Nangombe said he first needed information on the ground before he could comment on the matter. According to documents seen by New Era, Walvis Bay alone needs quarantine facilities with 600 beds, accommodation for 34 medical staff, 1 000 items of protective gear, including masks, face shields and gloves. 


Meanwhile, Walvis Bay alone recorded 12 cases at the weekend, including a two-year-old and a 10-year-old boy.  Seven of the 12 cases were announced yesterday. According to the health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula, the seven cases are from Kuisebmond.
 A 28-year-old Indian-born woman who travelled to Namibia via South Africa also tested positive while in quarantine. The last case is that of a 65-year-old South African woman, residing in Namibia, and who travelled from South Africa and tested positive while in quarantine.  According to Shangula all nine cases are in good clinical condition.


2020-06-22  Eveline de Klerk

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