by Shelleygan Petersen and Charmaine Ngatjiheue
THE coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has caused the death of 53 people in the last seven days, as more patients are admitted into hospitals countrywide.
Since the beginning of May, Namibia has recorded 116 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the death tally to 765. This represents an average 38 deaths per week since the beginning of this month. Last month, the Ministry of Health and Social Services recorded 115 Covid-19 deaths in 30 days.
This comes after The Namibian last week reported that Windhoek is facing a crisis in the intensive care units (ICUs) for Covid-19 patients, especially in private hospitals. As of 16 May, 66 people were in ICU out of 215 hospitalised patients.
However, the ICU cases dropped to 51 as of Saturday, while the number of deaths has been increasing over the past week, according to a research by The Namibian.
The health ministry recently confirmed the spike in severe cases and deaths countrywide.
“Of concern is the fact that [there are] more severe cases [and a] higher number of hospitalised cases and deaths.
The increase in hospitalised cases has exerted pressure on the available capacity of intensive care treatment, both private and public,” the statement reads.
Last month, The Namibian reported that 32 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the seven days between 5 and 11 April 2021.
Health and social services minister Kalumbi Shangula says the number of deaths recorded is terribly high and remains a concern.
NO SENSE OF URGENCY
The minister said they have noticed complacency in how people are dealing with Covid-19.
“There is no sense of urgency anymore,” he said.
He said the public hospitals can handle the pressure from the increasing cases, despite 279 cases reported on Saturday, with 230 hospitalizations.
“We can still admit everyone but private hospitals are facing a bit of a challenge. The cases are high there; they cannot admit everyone, but they can come to state,” Shangula noted.
The minister stressed that all variants are dangerous and the same message and health protocols apply to avoid the deaths and increasing cases.
“Prevention is better than cure. Do not worry about one specific variant like the Indian variant because all variants are killing,” he said.
The health ministry last week confirmed that the United Kingdom variant is present in Namibia while they are testing for the variants from Brazil and India.
The ministry alluded that the recent spike in critical cases might be a result of the presence of a variant in the country.
A Windhoek-based infectious diseases specialist, Dr Gordon Cupido, said the current increase in Covid-19 cases has put more pressure on the health system, resulting in increased mortality.
Speaking on the Indian variant, Cupido said so far it is not clear whether it is deadlier, but it is probably more transmissible.
“Mutations in spike protein and binding sites, which may increase affinity for the receptor, make it more infectious. But [it] possibly also has one or more mutations, which decrease the binding of antibodies and cause vaccine escape,” Cupido said, explaining the characteristics of the Indian variant.
He believes the country should identify the presence of the variant for it to react accordingly.
“If there is a possibility of increased transmission or vaccine escape, we should issue a travel ban on India and strengthen non- pharmacological controls instead of maintaining present measures,” he said.
India and Brazil have been devastated by the new variants, with thousands dying daily.