HEALTH minister Kalumbi Shangula says there is no need for panic, as the country registered three new Coronavirus cases this week.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula. Photo: MICT

The new cases bring the total confirmed cases to 19. The three new cases were recorded in quarantine, all having travelled from South Africa, meaning they are imported cases.

Case 17 is a 66-year-old Namibian resident. She does not show any Covid-19 symptoms and her condition is stable, Shangula noted.

Case 18, on the other hand, is a 28-year-old Namibian female resident. She too does not show any Covid-19 symptoms.

“The detection of the two cases, after a period of 45 days without new cases should rekindle our resolve to intensify the fight against Covid-19 in the country. I express my appreciation to the public for their cooperation, that we do not have a local transmission.

He said everyone in a quarantine facility is subject to mandatory testing on day 12 of the 14-day quarantine. Results are released before the people leave the facility.

Case 19, for example, is a 29-year-old Namibian man who was tested on day 12 before he was due to be released after 14 days of quarantine. Announcing this new case on Friday morning, Shangula said the patient did not display any symptoms and his condition is satisfactory.

The minister, however, said the new cases would not affect the reopening of schools, because the cases are imported and not community transmissions.

TARGETED TESTING
The health minister noted Namibia will no longer be testing based on the 200 000 target testing figure announced in March. He said Namibia now aims to test less than 1% of the country’s population.

Shangula said the 200 000 figure was based on the projected testing capacity of the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) but the country needs to test fewer people to achieve an objective, which is to assess the degree of community transmissions.

“Generally, from the epidemiological point of view, you only need to test about 0,5% of the population to achieve that objective. This means 200 000 is no longer the target. The target is much lower than that, which is about between 0,8% and 0,9% of the population for us to achieve an objective.

“That gives us the confidence that we do not have any community transmissions. We do not want to waste resources by testing for the sake of testing,” he said. So far the country has tested 2 681 samples. On Wednesday, 97 samples were tested, with the two new cases forming part of that.

STAGE 3 LOCKDOWN
Namibia is set to move to stage 3 of the four-stage exit plan on 2 June, which means all stage 2 activities are included, as announced by president Hage Geingob in early May. Businesses will be allowed to operate, subject to proper use of personal protective measures in place.

In stage 3, public gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of 20 people and the general population will be encouraged to work or study from home where possible.

During this stage, secondary schools and universities are to resume face-to-face classes; retail, hospitality (restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels, etc.) establishments and service sector providers will reopen following social distancing guidelines.

The country is also set to gradually reopen borders to selected countries in the region, based on regularly updated outbreak information and in collaboration with African Union, World Health Organisation and other coordinating agencies.

The progression from one stage to the next will depend on developments on confirmed cases, and the details of stages may change, Geingob said at the time.

Responding to questions from The Namibian on whether the current regulations remain intact, justice minister Yvonne Dausab said yesterday the matter would become a subject of discussion at the expanded risk management committee at Cabinet level.

“But I don’t set the agenda. Please contact the prime minister, she is in charge of that committee,” she said.

Namibia has recorded 14 recoveries, and four active cases. The number of people in quarantine facilities is 513, while 926 have been released.

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