A 47-year-old truck driver, who at the weekend tested positive for Covid-19, has denied that he snuck out of a mandatory quarantine facility before testing positive to the virus.
Efforts are currently underway to trace all people, including employees of Standard Bank, a taxi driver and family who came in contact with the FP du Toit Transport trucker whose sample tested positive for Covid-19 last week in Walvis Bay. The truck driver along with another trucker, Jafet Ndjuluwa, were fired after they reporteldy snuck out of quarantine to visit friends and family.
Thursday last week, the pair denied the allegation, saying they merely went for a jog. They also told New Era that they were allowed by the company to visit Standard Bank to apply for loans, seeing that their salaries were cut by 50%. They were also allowed to mingle with other staff members, visit their workshop and one of them also went to see a local doctor, according to Ndjuluwa.
“That was the only time that we left the premises and also assumed that we could go for a jog seeing that we were allowed to do all that,” he said. He explained that they arrived in Namibia via the Buitepost border on 8 May but arrived in Walvis Bay on 10 May.
During that time, they went to their depot in Windhoek, OK Grocer in Gobabis and Navachab mine in Karibib. “We were only told to minimise our movement. As a result, family members would bring us food and use the bathroom and kitchen with other drivers.
We never sneaked out to see our family and this was confirmed to the company when they were interviewed,” he said. The transport company’s group CEO Stephan Terblanche could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge in a statement said the notion of the truck drivers breaking out of quarantine remains unclear, as authorities are currently busy tracing all contacts of the town’s first confirmed case.
“Anyone who has spent time in close quarters with the infected truck driver who is now in isolation should also isolate themselves,” Ipinge said on Sunday.
He added that his office has been keeping a close eye on the developments relating to the truck drivers, claiming they were also unfairly dismissed. “Unfair in the sense that the same day they went out jogging, the company allowed them to visit banks and shops where this gentleman came into contact with the public,” he said. Since their dismissal, the duo had been moved to the Walvis Bay state hospital isolation facility where they came into contact with other two truck drivers including the one who had inconclusive test results in Zambia.
According to Ipinge, the town’s emergency response team is engaging the health ministry to move Ndjuluwa to an alternative quarantine facility rather than keeping him in isolation with the colleague.
The councillor also called for a temporary closure of the transport company as well as the Standard Bank branch that was visited by the infected driver.
Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe was yesterday expected to meet various stakeholders to decide the next step for Standard Bank and FP Du Toit whose employees were in close contact with the positive trucker.
“A lack of awareness with regards to Covid-19 remains a concern and that the ministry is busy identifying and addressing those gaps. It is of outmost importance that Namibians protect themselves and behave responsibly as the virus is deadly,” he said. In the meantime, he said, contact tracing efforts were underway, especially concentrating on those establishments visited by the truck driver, a brother who collected his laundry and people that visited the bank on the said day. He, however, could not say how many people were already contacted. Namibia has 21 confirmed cases, 14 recoveries and seven active cases of Covid-19. Standard Bank said it will issue a statement today.
Eveline de Klerk
2020-05-26 09:40:17 | 4 months ago