COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia

The COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Namibia on 14 March 2020. The country went into a lockdown on 28 March 2020. No infections were reported from 5 April 2020 to 21 May 2020, however 6 new cases have been confirmed after this period. The virus caused no fatalities in the country yet. From 5 May, movement and contact restrictions are to be decreased gradually during stage 2.

COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationNamibia
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China (suspected)
30°35′14″N 114°17′17″E / 30.58722°N 114.28806°E / 30.58722; 114.28806
Index caseWindhoek, Khomas Region
Arrival date11 March 2020
(2 months, 2 weeks and 3 days)
Confirmed cases22 (as of 27 May)[1]
Active cases8 (as of 27 May)
Critical cases1 (as of 27 May)
Recovered14 (as of 27 May)[1]
Deaths
0 (as of 27 May)[1]

Background

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[2][3]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[4][5] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[6][4]

Namibia has a dual public / private health care system where the majority of people are served by state institutions. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak public facilities countrywide had 39 ventilators installed; an additional 10 were ready to be deployed to new locations. A further 83 were ordered due to the pandemic.[7]

Confirmed cases

On 14 March, Namibia reported its first cases of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2.[8][9] They were a Romanian couple who arrived in Windhoek from Spain via Doha, Qatar, on 11 March. They had been screened on arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport but showed no symptoms at that time.[8] The couple recovered within 2 weeks.[10]

On 19 March, a third case was confirmed. A 61-year-old German citizen, who arrived in Namibia on 13 March, remains in isolation and is in stable condition. As with the Romanian couple, all contacts were followed up and tested. By 25 March 2020 the total number of cases reached seven, of which one is thought to be a local transmission.[10] By 28 March, the total number of cases had reached 11, with all new cases being travel-related,[11] and by 6 April there were 16 cases overall and 3 recoveries. By that time, 362 tests had been conducted, 206 by the Namibian government through the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), and 156 by South African laboratories.[12]

From 5 April 2020 to 21 May 2020, no new cases have been recorded and the total remained at 16 confirmed cases[1] However, on 21 May, the Ministry of Health and Social Services announced 2 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Namibia. Both were in quarantine and arrived from South Africa. They were two women of age 28 and 66.[13]

On 22 May 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services announced another positive case - a 29-year-old male - bringing the total to 19. The Minister also announced the reinfection of a case previously thought to test negative. Another separate recovery has been registered, but recoveries remain at 14 due to the reinfection.[14] On 23 May 2020, another case was registered; a 29-year-old male also originating from South Africa. He was tested while in quarantine.[15]

On 24 May, the minister of Health and Social Services announced another positive COVID-19 case; this time of a truck driver originating from South Africa. Although he was in quarantine, he sneaked out of the facility along with another truck driver (but were apprehended by police thereafter). One of them tested positive on 23 May bringing the total cases to 21.[16] Another positive case was registered on 27 May 2020 after the minister of Health and Social Services announced another case in critical condition due to underlying health issues. The 63-year-old male returned from a vessel from the DRC.[17]

7 of the active cases are asymptomatic, while one is in critical state.[18]

To date Namibia has recorded no death as a result of COVID-19. All confirmed cases are from three regions, Khomas, Erongo and ǁKharas. As of 27 May 2020, 3201 tests have been performed countrywide. Currently, 621 people are in quarantine facilities.[19]

Government responses

Movement restrictions

In a first reaction on 14 March, when the first cases were confirmed, government suspended air travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany for 30 days. All public and private schools were closed for a month, and large gatherings were prohibited. This included celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Namibian independence that was to take place on 21 March.[20] Libraries, museums, and art galleries were also closed.[8] On 17 March President Hage Geingob declared a state of emergency as a legal basis to restrict fundamental rights, e.g. to freely move and assemble, guaranteed by the Constitution. The prohibition of large gatherings was clarified to apply to 50 or more people.[21]

Beginning 27 March, a 21-day lockdown of the regions of Erongo and Khomas was announced. Inter-regional travel was forbidden, excluding the commuter towns of Okahandja and Rehoboth. Parliament sessions were suspended for the same period, and bars and markets were closed.[10] "Large gatherings" were redefined to 10 people.[22] It was later clarified that the closure of bars applies to all of Namibia, not just the regions under lockdown.[23] The sale of alcohol was forbidden.

The water supply of households that were cut due to non-payment was ordered to be reconnected. This resulted in large crowds queuing at municipal offices in Windhoek, causing concern over the violation of social distancing.[24]

On 14 April the lockdown was extended to 4 May. It now officially applies to all regions, although the stay-at-home order was already enforced countrywide. Some of the lockdown conditions were amended, such that now fishing counts as essential service, and open markets as well as informal trade are allowed to operate. An Emergency Income Grant was set up to distribute N$ 750 to every person that lost income or faces otherwise difficult conditions due to the lockdown.[25] Over 800,000 people applied for this grant. 346,000 of them were paid by the end of April.[26]

Return to normal

Prior to the lapse of the lockdown a 4-stage strategy was developed to gradually ease restrictions:[26][27]

  1. The lockdown itself is stage 1.
  2. In stage 2, starting from 5 May 2020, most businesses are allowed to operate again, and people are allowed to move around. Employees over 60 and those chronically sick are to work from home. In public a face mask is to be worn, and social distancing is still to be implemented. Gatherings of more than 10 people, contact sports, bars and gyms are not allowed, alcohol may not be sold, and international borders remain closed.
  3. Stage 3 is envisaged to follow 28 days after stage 2, twice the incubation period of the virus. It will allow the reopening of schools and universities and a gradual opening of borders. Public gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted.
  4. Stage 4, again 28 days after stage 3, is planned as the full return to pre-pandemic regulations with the exception of large gatherings. This stage is intended to last until there is a vaccine for the virus.

Impact on society

Caused by ambiguous information from government,[28] a short wave of panic buying ensued in the last week of March in the Erongo Region and selected shops in Windhoek.[29]

Due to the lockdown, crime rates[30] and road accidents[31] decreased significantly. Several shops increased prices for hygiene products and fruits for private brewing. They are currently being investigated by the Namibian Competition Commission.[32]

Many students expressed their concerns regarding the late reopening of schools. A change.org petition, labelled "Motion for schools to open earlier for grade 11s and 12s in Namibia" has gained over 2,500 signatures in an attempt to convince the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture[33] to open schools earlier.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Namibia Coronavirus: 16 Cases and 0 Deaths". www.worldometers.info. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  2. ^ Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  3. ^ Reynolds, Matt (4 March 2020). "What is coronavirus and how close is it to becoming a pandemic?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Crunching the numbers for coronavirus". Imperial News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ "High consequence infectious diseases (HCID); Guidance and information about high consequence infectious diseases and their management in England". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  6. ^ "World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – Coronavirus". www.wfsahq.org. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ Ngatjiheue, Charmaine (14 April 2020). "Namibia plans Covid-19 exit strategy". The Namibian. p. 3.
  8. ^ a b c Nakale, Albertina (16 March 2020). "Corona mayhem". New Era. p. 1.
  9. ^ "Namibia Says Couple Visiting From Spain Test Positive for Virus". Bloomberg. 14 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Shikongo, Arlana (25 March 2020). "Partial lockdown in effect from Friday". The Namibian. p. 1.
  11. ^ Katjiheue, Charmaine (28 March 2020). "Update: Namibia confirms 11 Covid-19 infections". The Namibian.
  12. ^ Katjiheue, Charmaine (28 March 2020). "More coronavirus cases detected". The Namibian. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Ministry of Health and Social Services-Namibia". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Ministry of Health and Social Services-Namibia". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  15. ^ "MICTNamibia on Twitter". @MICTNamibia. Twitter. 23 May 2020.
  16. ^ "Ministry of Health and Social Services-Namibia". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  17. ^ nbcnews (27 May 2020). ""COVID-19 UPDATE | Minister of Health, Dr Kalumbi Shangula today announced one more case bringing positive cases to 22. A 63-year-old Namibian man tested positive. He travelled to Democratic Republic of Congo. Namibia has 14 recoveries, 8 active cases with 3 201 samples tested. pic.twitter.com/hp3lAr5c4K"". @newsonnbc. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Health Update: Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Namibia now at 22 – LIVE UPDATES". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Ministry of Health and Social Services-Namibia". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  20. ^ Shikongo, Arlana (16 March 2020). "Namibia battles coronavirus". The Namibian. p. 1.
  21. ^ Ngatjiheue, Charmaine (18 March 2020). "Govt raises Covid-19 surveillance". The Namibian. p. 1.
  22. ^ Kahiurika, Ndanki (27 March 2020). "Countdown to lockdown". The Namibian. p. 1.
  23. ^ Miyanicwe, Clemans (28 March 2020). "Bars closed in Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions". The Namibian.
  24. ^ "Chaos erupts for free water reconnection". The Namibian. Nampa. 28 March 2020.
  25. ^ Ngutjinazo, Okeri (15 April 2020). "Informal sector gets lifeline". The Namibian. p. 1.
  26. ^ a b Ikela, Selma (30 April 2020). "Lockdown: 4 potential exit strategies". New Era. p. 1.
  27. ^ Ngatjiheue, Charmaine (30 April 2020). "Namibia to reopen economy ... moves to 'stage two', post-lockdown". The Namibian. p. 1.
  28. ^ Steffen, Frank; Leuschner, Erwin (27 March 2020). "Ausgangsverbot ab Mitternacht" [Curfew from Midnight]. Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). p. 1.
  29. ^ Nembwaya, Hileni (27 March 2020). "Pick N Pay urges customers to desist from panic buying". The Namibian.
  30. ^ Newaka, Terttu (15 April 2020). "Crime decreases during lockdown". The Namibian. p. 3.
  31. ^ "Four road accidents over Easter weekend". The Namibian. Nampa. 15 April 2020. p. 3.
  32. ^ Brandt, Edgar (20 May 2020). "Covid-19 profiteers unmasked … commission has clear evidence of price exploitation". New Era.
  33. ^ "Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture - Welcome". www.moe.gov.na. Retrieved 10 May 2020.

External links