by Ester Mbathera and Charmaine Ngatjiheue

A SECOND Covid19 death in less than a week has exposed limitations in the way the country is handling the pandemic.

Critics have accused the government of mishandling the pandemic in Erongo region, which is now the epicentre of the virus.

The second death has also shown that doctors and nurses, particularly at Walvis Bay, are overwhelmed with the number of cases as state facilities have been stretched to the limit.

Announcing the death yesterday, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the deceased had diabetes before the Covid-19 diagnosis.

He visited the state hospital on 7 July 2020 where his blood sugar level was found to be high and was stabilised.

“On 10 July 2020, he visited the private doctor, and was treated as an outpatient and sent home,” the health minister said.

After the patient died on 10 July, Shangula said a specimen was collected from the body on 11 July 2020, when it was brought to the hospital mortuary.

“The result came out positive on 13 July 2020. Therefore, this case is classified as a Covid-19-related death and this brings the number of Covid-19 deaths in Namibia to two. We express our deepest condolences to the bereaved family,” he said.

The minister said even though patients have underlying issues, their deaths are still recorded as Covid-19 deaths.

“This is according to the international classification, which says any death with a positive result is a Covid-19 death. However, all the deaths we have had so far have had severe underlying conditions,” he said.

He said samples in the second death were only taken when the patient had died, however, the first Covid-19 related deceased had his samples taken while he was still alive.

He said since the patient visited state and private health facilities for his diabetes diagnosis, prior to his Covid-19 positive result, the protocols, which include the quarantine of staff members, are in place.

“The necessary contact tracing process is ongoing,” Shangula said.

A leaked letter dated 14 July 2020 (yesterday) to Shangula from Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge, who doubles up as the chairperson of the Constituency Disaster Risk Management Committee accuses the ministry of a lack of leadership.

In the letter Ipinge stressed that infected patients are forced into unmonitored self-quarantine in backyard shacks, sharing amenities with about 50 other residents.

“I am seriously dumbfounded by the fact that the ministry does not have a practical framework of action to mitigate community transmission and/or slow down the spread of Covid-19 at Walvis Bay and the Erongo region at large,” the councillor said.

Ipinge urged the government to get rid of the systematic discrimination, otherwise they would mobilise members of the National Assembly for a vote of no confidence in line with article 39 of the Constitution.

A report released on Monday by the Erongo police, mentioned that the deceased died between 05h00 and 06h00 at Tutaleni, Walvis Bay.

The deceased was a driver at a local fishing company at the coastal town.

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