by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

NAMIBIA has recorded its third case of a coronavirus infection, after a 61-year-old German national who travelled to Namibia tested positive for the virus.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula told a press conference in Windhoek yesterday that the German man arrived in Windhoek on 13 March from Zimbabwe. He had first travelled to Amsterdam from Germany on 23 February and then went to Zimbabwe on 4 March. 

Although he arrived in Namibia on 13 March, the German only started experiencing symptoms a few days later, the minister said. The positive test results from samples taken from him were received yesterday.

“Specimens were taken and sent to a laboratory, and the results returned positive. Like the first two cases, the latest case is also travel-related. There are still no known cases of local transmission in Namibia, and no Covid-19 deaths,” Shangula said.

According to the minister, the patient remains in medical isolation and is in stable condition, and the health ministry is actively tracing all persons that came into contact with this man to ensure proper quarantine and monitoring for symptoms.

“As a reminder, all Namibians should adhere to the regulations announced during the declaration of the state of emergency. People are encouraged to avoid crowds, wash hands with soap and running water, avoid touching faces, and stay away from other people when sick. The main symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing,” he said.

The minister further called for the privacy of the patient to be respected and said he is in isolation at a hospital ‘in Windhoek’. He added that the country has no pending cases as of yesterday.

Namibia reported its first two cases of the coronavirus last Saturday, involving a couple who travelled to Namibia from Spain through Doha, Qatar. The couple is being held in quarantine at the Hosea Kutako International Airport and are reportedly in stable condition as well.

Shangula reiterated that the ministry is working around the clock to monitor coronavirus cases, and the government, in conjunction with development cooperation partners and the private sector, is intensifying Namibia’s response and preparedness.

“Today (Thursday) the ministry received three ambulances, hospital beds, bed linen, and other items donated by the United States embassy to Namibia. These will go towards the Covid-19 response. Moreover, 10 ventilators bought by the government will arrive tonight (Thursday) in Windhoek and training on their use will commence soonest. 

“They will be distributed to identified facilities around the country as part of the Covid-19 preparedness and response. Fruitful discussions have also been held with various role players in Namibia to further improve our preparedness,” the minister added.

Speaking about the donation, US ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson said it originates from the US Department of Defence’s humanitarian assistance programme. The donation is valued at over N$2 million.

 The director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) office in Namibia, Eric Dziuban, said his office is working with the Namibian government on its Covid-19 response.

 “We have six members of our CDC team working full-time on the Covid-19 response led by the ministry of health. Right now, we are all focused on preventing the spread of the virus.  Everyone should wash their hands regularly, try not to touch your face, and try to keep some space between you and others. Most importantly, stay away from others if you are sick,” Dziuban advised.

After Namibia declared the coronavirus as a state of emergency earlier in the week, the issuance of visas on arrival at the Hosea Kutako International Airport has been suspended and a travel ban of foreign nationals (by air and sea) from affected countries, namely Schengen states, China, Iran, Korea, United Kingdom, United States of America and Japan was imposed.

Health executive director Ben Nangombe said the ministry is not working in isolation when it comes to Covid-19, and said it is a joint fight that needs the contribution of all Namibians. He added that people at regional offices have also been trained to ensure preparedness for the virus. 

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