by Adam Hartman

DUE to the increase in Covid-19 infections and deaths in the region, Erongo governor Neville Andre yesterday announced the restart of emergency operation centre meetings during which key stakeholders discuss the status quo of the pandemic in the region.

There are currently 891 active cases in the region, mostly at Swakopmund, with 143 deaths due to the virus.

A total of 125 positive cases are currently hospitalised, with eight in intensive care units across the region.

“These figures may seem low, but the pressure it puts on our healthcare facilities is immense. All indications are that the region’s state health facilities are full to capacity – especially at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay – putting more pressure on oxygen provision, human resources and other important equipment, such as ventilators,” Andre said at the stakeholders’ meeting.

He said the economy cannot afford another lockdown, and therefore pleaded with people to adhere to health regulations.

To date the total number of people who have been vaccinated in the Erongo region stands at 12 002 out of some 120 000 inhabitants.

Only 1,6% have been fully vaccinated.

More needs to be done to encourage people to get vaccinated, Andre said.

Erongo health director Anna Jonas on Monday said while there was a definite increase in cases, the Erongo region was still able to handle emergencies and offer space to critical patients from other regions.

The region currently has nine operational ventilators, of which eight are in use.
In addition, flow oxygen machines supplement the need for oxygen.

Erongo’s chief medical officer, Leonard Kabonga, said priority strategies are in place for patient care.

“Although our capacity is stretched, we have not turned anyone away to date,” he said.

Erongo education director Erenfriede Stephanus said eight schools in the region had to close.

She said 58 teachers, 11 institutional officers, 164 pupils, including 22 hostel pupils, have been infected, while a head of department recently died of Covid-19.

Erongo police commander Andreas Nelumbu said while his members are trying to enforce regulations, they are also vulnerable to the virus.

“We are not fully prepared in terms of gear, and our members are not Covid-19 proof, so they need to be protected too,” he said, adding that overcrowded police holding cells are also of concern.|

Church representative Mark Beukes said churches have been closed due to the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people.

“The pandemic is hitting our community every day. In the last few weeks I had to bury four of our members. People need to have hope nowadays though, and we are more than willing to cooperate in the fight against this pandemic,” he said.

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