by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

A DIRE shortage of isolation facilities in the Khomas region has left 1 941 Covid-19 patients isolating at home as the virus spreads unabated.

UP AND RUNNING … Health minister Kalumbi Shangula tours the mobile field hospital set up at the Hosea Kutako International Airport earlier this year, to be used for the testing, treatment and quarantine of individuals suspected of having contracted the coronavirus. Photo: Henry van Rooi/File

This means out of 2 050 active cases, only 109 are currently in isolation facilities.

The total confirmed cases in the region stood at 2 563 on Wednesday, with 513 recoveries and 25 deaths.

Acting Khomas health director Patemoshela Hamunyela admitted that when the number of cases started spiking, the region was not prepared – especially with regards to isolation facilities.

Hamunyela yesterday said as a result, most confirmed Covid-19 cases in the region are in home isolation.

“Most of these people are not in isolation facilities, because in the Khomas region we found ourselves not to have enough facilities,” she said.

Cases in home isolation are monitored by healthcare workers and called on a daily basis for the Ministry of Health and Social Services to determine whether their needs are met, she said.

“We are working on putting most of them in these isolation facilities, because we now have enough rooms to accommodate them,” she said.

As of last Thursday, the region lacked 300 isolation beds, but has identified new isolation facilities, including four hospital premises with a bed capacity of 79.

The region has also turned seven non-healthcare facilities into isolation facilities with a bed capacity of 134, and are currently negotiating to obtain three more facilities with a capacity of 68 beds.

The region has 28 quarantine facilities in total with a bed capacity of roughly 400.

Khomas governor Laura Mcleod-Katjirua said the number of cases in the region was shocking, as it reported 736 cases in the past five-days.

She said 11 hotspots have been identified: Khomasdal, Otjomuise, Goreangab, Windhoek Correctional Facility, Olympia, Cimbabesia, Havana, Greenwell, Wanaheda, Rocky Crest and Okuryangava.

“We must not take this Covid-19 situation lightly, but move fast to reset our priorities,” she said.

The region has resolved to reformulate its response plan, she said.

COMMUNITY TESTING POINTS

To address testing needs, since the Robert Mugabe Clinic in the capital is overwhelmed, the region has identified testing points and centres in different constituencies.

The governor said Windhoek Rural constituency’s testing centres include the Groot Aub Clinic, the renovated community hall at the Tobias Hainyeko constituency, the open space next to the mobile police station in Windhoek West; Katutura East, the open space next to the teachers’ resource centre in Katutura East, the open space at the constituency office in Klein Windhoek in Windhoek East, the Khomas Regional Council plot for John Pandeni, the Single Quarters for Katutura Central, and the open space at Agste Laan informal settlement in Otjomuise for the Khomas constituency.

The region has also identified other testing centres at the Ramatex complex, as well as the Katutura and Otjumuise community halls.

“In addition, eight mobile telephone numbers have been introduced for the release of positive results and recovery certificates through WhatsApp and email to minimise movement and promote the stay-at-home Covid-19 mitigation strategy,” Mcleod-Katjiruathe said.


She said negative results could be collected at the old filling station opposite the Khomas Regional Council offices.

HOME ISOLATION PROTOCOL

In a leaked internal circular dated 23 August, Ben Nangombe, executive director of health and social services, said the case management team would take into account the disease severity and health condition to determine whether a patient must be admitted to a facility for care or considered for isolation at home.

The team would also look at whether people can isolate at home safely and effectively, with separate amenities for 10 days.

Contacts at home should also not be older than 50 years, and the patient should not have underlying health conditions.

Nangombe said supervised home isolation is recommended for asymptomatic cases for the same period unless urgent healthcare is needed.

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