by Adam Hartman

A testing exercise aimed at having 2 000 people at Walvis Bay checked for Covid-19 by Friday is set to start tomorrow.

The active case identification exercise’s objective is to establish the extent of the spread of Covid-19 in the Walvis Bay district, and to use data collected to plan for response activities in the district, Erongo governor Neville Andre announced on Tuesday afternoon.

“Erongo is faced with the mammoth task of ensuring that we contain the virus – it is here with us and amongst us,” he said during a press conference at Swakopmund.

Over the past week Namibia’s coronavirus infections have increased from 32 to 67. Most of the cases are from Walvis Bay, where a total of 13 cases were registere in this time.

Andre said this necessitates targeted public health interventions, to contain the spread of the virus at the harbour town, which has become the epicentre of Namibian infections – especially the town’s Kuisebmund area.

A task force comprising the office of the governor and Erongo Regional Council, the Ministry of Health and Social Services with support from the World Health Organisation, the Municipality of Walvis Bay, the security forces and other stakeholders will expand a testing strategy to ensure “no possible case is missed”.

A testing centre at the Kuisebmund Community Hall was established on 20 June and more than 400 people have been tested so far. The exercise hopes to reach more people faster.

Hilary Kagume of the WHO said the main purpose of the testing project is to establish the extent of transmission in the district, and so the investigation will target locations with high populations and vulnerable persons who interact with many people from the community as they conduct their daily jobs and offer essential services.

These will include healthcare workers in health facilities and pharmacies, cashiers, tellers, receptionists, security guards, cleaners, security forces personnel, shops, supermarkets, banks, barber shops and salons, car washes, vendors, drivers, ship operators and staff, and operational factories providing essential services.

The target per site was determined based on current population size in different areas in the district and the current location of cases and contacts in the district.

After the testing, results are expected to be made known by Sunday (28 June).

“This exercise will give us a picture of how many people are possibly affected and where they are located and it will assists us in doing proper planning, to know how much resources, both human and financial, we require to arrest this pandemic in Walvis Bay,” said Kagume.

Points of testing (and the number of people to be tested) from 24 to 25 June are Sea Point and Namport locations at Kuisebmond (268 people each) and Tutaleni and Twaloloka locations (200 people each).
From 26 to 27 June, testing will be done along Kabeljou Street, at the Kuisebmond centre and at Narraville (200 each), the harbour and town centre (100 people), and Utuseb (64 people). Today and on 27 June, 300 people are to be tested.

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