by Hileni Nembwaya
A NUMBER of people in mandatory quarantine facilities in the Oshana region are threatening to escape from the facilities, citing a lack of cooperation of health authorities.
They say authorities have extended their quarantine periods from the initial mandatory 14 days to more than 21 days – sometimes without any tests conducted, while laboratory test results are delayed.
Even though many people are kept in relatively comfortable quarantine facilities around Oshakati and Ongwediva, some are complaining of a lack of bedding, cleaning supplies and food.
They say they have not received test results after being tested and are locked in separate rooms all day – unable to move around the facilities freely.
“I have been here since 24 June, and I was tested on 6 July. I have been in quarantine for more than 14 days now. Our test results have not been sent to Windhoek, according to the nurses here.
“I cannot even step out of my room to catch a bit of sunlight, and it is stressing. I came in here as a healthy man, but now I have developed back pain because I sleep too much,” Jesaya Jacob, a long-distance truck driver, says.
Another truck driver, who does not want to be named, says life in quarantine is draining – both mentally and physically – as people are locked up in separate rooms without anyone to talk to, which could lead to depression.
“My company is threatening to replace me with someone else if I do not report back to work within a certain time frame, but I’m still locked up. I cannot wait for the results to come out any longer; I just want to go home.
“My family needs me for survival, and if I do not work, I will not get paid a single cent. I am tired of this place,” he says.
Oshana health director Johanna Haimene says the region is experiencing a huge backlog of test samples, hence the delay in test results.
“We are faced with a low testing capacity of Covid-19 specimen, and many people tested may have experienced delayed results as well. The Ministry [of Health and Social Services] is, however, busy trying to set up new mechanisms to prevent such prolonged announcement of results.
“We therefore encourage all people held in quarantine to stay there until they receive their results. We understand their frustration, but they should really bear with us until their results are back. Only then can we release them,” she says.
More than 71 people are quarantined in the region, many of which are truck drivers and people who recently travelled from hotspots in the Erongo region.