HEALTH UPDATE: Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula this morning said case number 22 is making good progress, but remains in the intensive care unit.

Namibia has however reported a new Covid-19 case involving a 44-year-old man at Walvis Bay. He is asymptomatic and has not come in contact with any known cases. Contact tracing has commenced.

Namibia now has 40 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 19 recoveries. The country has not reported any deaths.

PANEL DISCUSSION: This morning’s panellists at the Covid-19 communication centre are discussing the impact of Covid-19 on tuberculosis (TB) patients.

Panellists are Paulus Shaanika, senior health programme officer for the Khomas region, Dr Uapakuouje Pazvakavambwa, medical officer at the Ministry of Health and Social Services and Albertina Thomas, head of the national TB programme at the health ministry.
Photo: Charmaine Ngatjiheue

Thomas said TB and Covid-19 have similarities, although Covid-19 presents a dry cough and TB a productive cough.

She said the World Health Organisation has set up a strategy to end TB, and expects countries to set clear guidelines on how to deal with the disease.

“This means countries should provide integrated care for TB patients,” she said.

Thomas said the country is committed to ensuring that TB medication is available and paid for by the government. She said the health system is prepared to address both TB and Covid-19.

Thomas said Namibia has strong links with local and international partners, who are supportive of the health ministry. She said the ministry continues to work on preventating TB and ensuring resources are available.

“We are using digital platforms to have conferences to deal with TB,” she said.

Shaanika said the ministry has developed strategies to provide TB services differently after the pandemic reached Namibia. He said community health workers have been dispatched in the different regions, monitoring and educating TB patients so that the ministry can curb the spread of Covid-19 among them.

“We are consulting and advising one another with our stakeholders to maintain Namibia’s 84% rate of curbing the spread of TB,” Shaanika said.

Dr Pazvakavambwa said healthcare workers are delivering treatment to patients as opposed to patients visiting clinics and hospitals.

She said despite Covid-19, TB samples are tested at the Namibia Institute of Pathology. Shaanika said Covid-19 has killed more people with underlying conditions, and the health ministry thus practises preventative measures.

He said when patients present themselves to health facilities, they would be tested for both Covid-19 and TB.

“In May, we went to screen inmates at a correctional facility for TB, and we also screened them for Covid-19. A number of patients tested positive for TB. We need to conduct these tests to prevent TB from spreading, since it is airborne,” he said.

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