WALVIS BAY – Devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, Walvis Bay residents have made a desperate plea for help as more test positive for Covid-19, while hundreds are forced to self-isolate.
The residents are urging top government officials, including health authorities, to visit the town to assess the havoc caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The virus has claimed the life of a 55-year-old man yesterday, while 90 of the 97 confirmed new cases were reported in Walvis Bay.
According to Dr Kalumbi Shangula, the latest Covid-19 victim was being treated in a private hospital. New Era understands the wife and children of the victim are also being treated at the same facility for Covid-19. Most of his colleagues were told to self-quarantine and their offices temporarily closed when he tested positive.
Shangula yesterday announced that at least 13 cases are critically ill and need oxygen support. Among those who tested positive at Walvis Bay, three are healthcare workers. More than 300 infected people are forced to isolate at home, further fuelling the infection rate.
Erongo governor Neville Andre earlier said the region is looking at other alternatives to address the situation, which has spiralled out of control. Walvis Bay mayor Immanuel Wilfred last week also indicated that they are looking at making available municipal town halls to help the town cope with the increasing Covid-19 cases. Unionist and local resident Paulus Hango expressed his concern, saying the town was left to battle the coronavirus pandemic alone. “We are getting the perception that the real situation is not being communicated to the ministry and government. However, is it possible that we cannot see that Covid-19 is out of control at Walvis Bay – and still, no leadership has visited the town,” he said.
Community activist Kenneth Iilonga yesterday also decried the situation, saying a different approach needs to be taken to bring the pandemic under control at the town.
“We definitely need different ideas and solutions, as some of the people who tested positive for Covid-19 are still at home and further spreading the deadly flu to their families,” he said.
Approached for comment, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said there is no need to send anyone to Walvis Bay, saying they are in touch with the regional response team, which includes Andre and health director Anna Jonas, via Zoom and other communication channels.
“We are in touch on a daily basis and know exactly what is happening on the ground, as the regional leadership and the business sector that formed the emergency response team continuously brief us about Walvis Bay – just like all regions do,” he said.
Nangombe added that they are currently working around the clock, re-looking strategies to bring Covid-19 under control.
“We don’t have weekends anymore. Just because nobody has visited the region doesn’t mean we do not know what is happening. That is how hard we are working,” he said. According to Nangombe, the current plan is to re-purpose some of the quarantine facilities, such as the bungalows in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, to isolation facilities and rather look for quarantine facilities in other towns of the region.
“The local response team is literally our mirror in terms of Covid-19 situation.”
Meanwhile, Shangula yesterday announced that three new cases were also reported at Swakopmund, two at Engela, while Outapi and Katima Mulilo recorded a case each.
The cases at Engela are contacts of a confirmed case, while the Outapi patient travelled to the town on 12 July and was tested while in quarantine. The source of infection of the Katima Mulilo case is still under investigation.