The government yesterday announced a raft of new measures to curb the further spread of coronavirus, as President Hage Geingob declared a national emergency on the global pandemic. “As emphasised in my statement of 14 March, the health of Namibians is the priority. Covid-19 is a public health emergency, considering the threat posed to the lives of the Namibian people,” said Geingob.
As a result, authorities have suspended the issuance of visas to foreign nationals from coronavirus high-risk countries such as Schengen states, China, Iran, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States of America and Japan. Treasury has committed N$124 million to help fight the virus, which has so far claimed over 7 500 lives globally.
Namibia has two confirmed cases after a Romanian couple tested positive. Namibian Ambassador to France Albertus !Aochamub became the first known Namibian to test positive for the virus.
According to international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, !Aochamub is hospitalised in France, even though he has mild symptoms of the virus, while his family is under self-quarantine.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said all six newly suspected cases returned negative.
Government at the weekend already imposed several measures, including closing all private and public schools until 14 April, while mass gatherings were discouraged, prompting the cancellation of the Independence Day celebrations. International flights to and from Ethiopia, Germany and Qatar were also banned on Saturday for 30 days.
Government has imposed a 30-day ban of public gatherings of more than 50 people, including those that are religious, customary, weddings and funerals, as well as all parades for uniformed forces. Government also announced it will handle all coronavirus-related deaths and funerals, with psychosocial support to the family.
Owners of public transport vehicles have also been implored to provide hand sanitisers and masks to all their passengers and guard against overloading. Service providers have also been encouraged to scale up the provision of water supply, especially at informal settlements and other strategic places through water tankers.
“Public awareness messages and campaigns should be intensified using all media avenues and platforms to reach every community member in all regions. Shops, shopping malls and supermarkets [are] to put measures in place to ensure and enhance hygiene at all times to protect all clients and customers, such as the provision of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and face masks for employees,” said Shangula.
Government has also imposed a temporary travel suspension for Namibians or permanent resident functionaries, except for special cases. “Exceptional cases will include persons seeking medical treatment, essential services like humanitarian assistance, truck drivers bringing food and other essential commodities, Namibians returning, among others,” said Shangula.
“All leisure, business and social travel, like tourists, are suspended, and Namibians who are residents in other countries, considering to visit Namibia, [are] to postpone such visits.”
All international scheduled flights, including private chartered flights, will land only at the Hosea Kutako and Walvis Bay international airports.
“All scheduled passenger flights, including private chartered flights to and from countries where there is active local transmission, [should] be temporarily suspended for 30 days with immediate effect. This suspension is exclusive of cargo and emergency flights to and from Namibia.”
Government said it would also ensure there is strict disinfection of aircraft and training of airport staff in infection prevention, while mandatory screening would be carried out at all national points of entry.
“All returning Namibians and permanent residents arriving from countries of at high risk or affected other countries will be subject to supervised self-quarantine for 14 days.”
Meanwhile, home affairs minister Frans Kapofi announced government was prepared to extend visas of foreign nationals who were still in the country when Geingob announced the country’s preventive measures on Saturday. Kapofi also announced that government would waive the costs of extending visas.
With regards to uniformed personnel, law enforcement agencies will be roped in to assist the ministry of health and National Health Emergency Management Committee as far as the battle against coronavirus is concerned. Court hearings will be conducted without attendance by members of the public, while all pending court cases are to be postponed in absentia for 30 days.
“For a period of 30 days, following the adoption of this measure, visits to correctional facilities and police holding cells [are] to be restricted to limited numbers of family members as determined by the relevant authorities,” Shangula said.
Nearly 200 000 people have been infected with the virus around the world. The most affected countries include China, with over 3 200 deaths, while Italy has recorded over 2 000 deaths from its nearly 28 000 confirmed cases. Iran, Spain and South Korea are the other high-risk countries. In Africa, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda, Togo, eSwatini, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are among the countries with confirmed cases.
2020-03-18 07:25:41 | 19 days ago