President Hage Geingob says the country currently has only 11 confirmed coronavirus infections, but “we don’t have the means to test”.

Hage Geingob

President Hage Geingob is currently briefing the country on the latest developments regarding the Covid-19 national response measures from the State House.

Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the government will be providing financial support to individuals to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19.

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula today said the government’s aim is to ensure that Namibia does not reach the same level of positive cases as foreign countries have.

Kalumbi Shangula

He urged the public to comply with the directives being set out for the sake of their own health. The minister further said they would be increasing the testing for Covid-19, especially for those with respiratory problems. Shangula also urged the public to be aware of fake news and how it spreads panic.

There are 11 confirmed cases: one in the //Karas region, two in the Erongo region and eight in the Khomas region. There is also only one confirmed case of local transmission, while the rest are imported infections.

Shangula announced that there are two more confirmed cases in the country which stem from the ninth confirmed case – the nine-month-old baby and the husband of the ninth case. The minister further said the remaining ten cases are in a stable condition.

The minister expressed concern at reports that people are still gathering in crowds, and appealed to the public to refrain from doing this.

Iipumbu Shiimi

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi said the government has set aside N$8,1 billion towards an economic stimulus package. The economic-relief measures will include support for the health sector, as well as job and income protection.

The minister said the grants will not be available to every Namibian, but are intended for those whose income falls below the annual tax threshold. Shiimi said because the income of these household is likely to suffer, eligible households will be able to apply for government-guaranteed loans from commercial banks to supplement their cash flow.

Local authorities are advised to make water available to households to ensure good hygiene practices are maintained, the minister said.

The minister said the income grant is set to cost the government N$562 million, while the subsidy for affected companies will cost approximately N$400 million.

The government is also proposing a loan scheme for SMEs and businesses in non-agricultural sectors, which would be made available through the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) using a government guarantee.

Businesses would have recourse to a relief scheme similar to those available for households, where eligible businesses can borrow up to one month of their tax obligations using a government guarantee.

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab admitted that ordinarily the state would have locked down the entire country to avoid the spread of Covid-19 cases to other regions, such as the //Kharas region. Clarifying the directives instructing the public to stay indoors, Dausab explained that people are allowed to be in their yards or gardens, and are not solely confined to their homes.

The minister encouraged those needing to go to a bank or shop, or any other unavoidable public gathering, to also adhere to the social distancing rules.

Dausab said the government has authorised all law enforcement agencies to assist with implementing the measures to curb the spread of the virus.

She added that law enforcement personnel would be placed at shops and funeral services to make sure that all the directives are being adhered to.

Asked why local business people aren’t being asked to contribute money towards the Covid-19 measures, president Hage Geingob maintained that people should come forth of their own accord, as requests for assistance will not be imposed on anyone.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula stated that 264 people are currently being held under quarantine in the country. He added that the entire country will go on lockdown when the situation dictates.

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