by Charmaine Ngatjiheue and Sakeus Iikela
PRESIDENT Hage Geingob is pondering lifting the state of emergency imposed six months ago among a raft of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 as the country reported its 100th death over the weekend.
Geingob on Friday said key considerations will be made in the next five days while moderate level three restriction measures will be extended across the country.
The state of emergency, which was imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus earlier this year, ends on Thursday, 17 September.
“We will see within the next five days if there is a need to extend it, but people need to behave well so that we don’t extend it. If it is needed, we will extend it if there is danger,” Geingob said.
He also added that, “the measures will apply to all 14 regions from Sunday, 13 September 2020 until midnight Thursday, 17 September 2020”.
The president maintained travel restrictions in and out of Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth local authority areas, but he increased the maximum number of people allowed to congregate at social gatherings from 10 to 50.
Geingob also stretched curfew hours from 20h00-05h00 to 22h00-05h00.
Several businesses such as restaurants, cafés and informal food traders “for sit-down meals …” may resume countrywide, including within the restricted areas of Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth.
These businesses can also sell alcohol for onsite consumption only.
However, for shebeens, bars and liquor outlets, trading hours will remain limited and on take-away basis while entertainment events, conferences and workshops will resume in compliance with the new regulations.
Nightclubs and gambling houses remain closed for the duration of this period.
Contact sports will not be permitted to resume, considering challenges to comply with public health measures, Geingob said.
Death Toll Reaches 100
The country recorded three novel coronavirus deaths yesterday, bringing the total number of deaths in Namibia to 101.
The three deaths include a 50-year-old man from Windhoek, a 37-year-old woman from Rundu and an 83-year-old man from Otjiwarongo.
This was announced yesterday by deputy minister of health and social services Ester Muinjangue.
Eric Dziuban, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, yesterday said 100 deaths is a sad milestone for Namibia.
He said the country has more cases per population than neighbouring countries, which can be partially attributed to more extensive testing.
“Our challenge now will be to test those places where we can clearly see the numbers rising quickly, like the //Kharas region and the north. This will help control transmission,” he said.
Namibia also recorded 115 new infections and 732 new recoveries yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 9 719 and recoveries to 6 543.
Of these new cases, 62 are men and 53 women. The youngest is 17 days old and the oldest 69 years.
Opposition Criticises Lockdown ExtenSion
Geingob was criticised by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani on Friday for retaining the lockdown on Khomas region.
To Venaani, the decision by Geingob to extend the lockdown of the Khomas region and the curfew was a knee-jerk reaction “on what they are feeling”. As it was not based on any evidence, unless “there was empirical data saying that if more than 10 people conglomerate together, the risk of spreading the disease is high”.
“The fact that parliament is currently sitting with over 100 people members and nothing is happening to them shows that here is no scientific data backing the government’s decision on Covid-19 measures,” Venaani said.
He said the extension shows that the government does not have an exit plan.
Venaani said his party would not support any extension of the state of emergency if it is not based on empirical evidence.
“There is no way you deliver an extension of the lockdown without an exit plan, because if Covid-19 is going to be with us for the next two years, we cannot continue locking down the economy,” he said.
Venaani, therefore, called on the government to consult stakeholders and political parties to craft the exit plan for the country within the next five days.
He said he would also not support the conducting of the regional council and local authority elections should the state of emergency be extended beyond September.