COVID-19 UPDATE … Speaking at the Covid-19 Communication Centre this morning, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the Namibia Institute of Pathology yesterday conducted its highest number of tests in 24 hours.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula

This comprised 216 samples, which all tested negative. “Our testing capabilities continue to improve. We commend the NIP on this milestone,” Shangula said.

The minister revealed that Namibia has now conducted over 5 000 tests for Covid-19, with positive cases remaining at 31, with 17 recoveries.

Shangula said case number 22 is still in intensive care, but in a stable condition and is showing progress.

He said the test results of the students who showed flu-like symptoms and were isolated have come back negative.

Panelists at the Covid-19 Communication Centre will this morning discuss ‘an illicit drugs and alcohol free society’.

From left is Deputy programme manager at the health ministry Geraldine Kanyinga, Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance Namibian chapter chairperson Sandie Tjaronda, and recovered alcoholic Tonata Isak.

Isak says he realised he had an alcohol problem because he had no self-control when it came to drinking.

He believes alcohol is the leading cause of a number of issues such as fights, gender-based violence and rape.

Kanyinga says the Ministry of Health and Social Services has a countrywide substance abuse programme, which educates people on abuse issues.

She says people should not exceed the consumption of three units of alcohol a day.

Kanyinga says the ministry’s programmes are available to all Namibians, with social workers deployed in every region.

Kanyinga, who deals with substance abuse prevention, says this remains a problem in Namibia. She called on the public to fight what she deems an “unnecessary evil”.

Tjaronda, representing the Namibian chapter of the Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa), says the alcohol ban helped the country confront issues of abuse. He says the availability and oversupply of alcohol is problematic, and children can access it easily.

“Alcohol is not a normal product. We do not have an understanding of what the industry is trying to achieve. It is a myth that alcohol supports the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country,” he says.

He says alcohol is detrimental to the economy, and thus the country needs to look at the costs and benefits thereof.

Kanyinga says addiction is a life-long journey and rehabilitation could take up to two years. She says alcohol addicts lose their humanity and dignity.

Tjaronda says despite the government’s efforts to regulate alcohol, more should be done. He says alcohol is easy to access. Shebeens are everywhere without considering schools in surrounding areas, he says.

“There are harmful advertising strategies out there selling the idea that alcohol can make you a star,” he says.

Isak says addiction is a sickness and those who are sick need help.

Kanyinga says the country has good laws, which are not properly implemented. She says the law does not allow selling liquor to minors, but this is not implemented.

She says the country needs a radical change to prevent alcohol and drug abuse.

The deputy manager further says alcohol abuse is extremely high among the youth. Additionally it exacerbates violence.

Tjaronda says Saapa looks at evidence-based policies on alcohol. Factors of harm should be considered, he says. Tjaronda says alcohol policies need to be reworked.

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