The reality that many suspected for some time was confirmed yesterday. The deadly and fast spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus is in Namibia.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday warned
that the strain is deadly and highly transmissible. The variant was detected in 17 out of 18 samples analysed by the University of Namibia (Unam) as tasked by the health ministry.
Shangula implored Namibians to take the Covid-19 public health regulations as gazetted seriously in order to suppress the escalating new infections and high death tolls recorded daily. “What this means is that this variant is highly transmissible. It spreads and attacks very fast. It’s more viral. People who get it are most likely to end up hospitalised with severe illnesses,” Shangula warned. Therefore, he stressed the Covid-19 health measures in place are sufficient to prevent its spread. “So, people should adhere to the regulations, so they don’t make themselves vulnerable to the Delta variant,” he said. Confirming the strain’s presence, health executive director Ben Nangombe said samples were obtained from positive Covid-19 cases from the Khomas region.
As of 3 July 2021, the Delta variant has been detected in at least 98 countries around the world and is quickly becoming the dominant strain in many countries. Genomic data and epidemiological studies suggest Delta may be significantly more transmissible than other variants and it could be approximately twice as transmissible as the earlier variant of concern viruses.
The country’s third wave of infections has been deadly.
According to the latest available figures, Namibia has 24 641 active cases. So far, the country has lost 1 662 people to Covid-19. Of those, 726 died in June alone.
Only 26 171 people have been fully vaccinated in the country, while 124 192 have received the first dose. Although this is the first report on the detection of the Delta variant, Namibia has for months been trying to confirm whether the Delta variant, which is terrorising some parts of Africa, is present here or not. Therefore, this confirms the suspicions of many and that of President Hage Geingob who on Thursday during a Covid-19 update said there were clear indications
that the aggressive strain first detected in India earlier this year had landed here. Because of the increased number of infections and deaths, Namibia announced further measures to restrict the spread, including closing schools, limiting inter-regional travel and restricting access to alcohol.
The country also ran out of oxygen and hospital beds prompting the private sector to chip in with donations of the vital gas as well as emergency treatment facilities, including a field hospital in Windhoek. The latest genome sequencing exercise covers the months of May and June 2021.
Unam carried out the task in collaboration with the Research Centre Borstel and the Robert Koch Institute (Germany). Nangombe said more genomic sequencing activities will be carried out in the coming weeks to determine the extent to which the Delta variant may be present in the country.