by Ester Mbathera

MINISTER of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula on Friday made his way to Walvis Bay for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Namibia.

“I could not come last year during the lockdown, because of a Cabinet decision that members of the executive should remain in Windhoek due to meetings on almost a daily basis,” he said.

Without formal operating procedures, the region navigated the virus mainly through the intervention of the Erongo Covid Care initiative and the assistance of security forces.

The team behind the initiative was able to mobilise financial resources from businesses to upgrade ailing public healthcare facilities, especially at Walvis Bay.

Basic items such as personal protection equipment (PPE), masks and gloves were also sourced.

Additionally, companies such as Namdock roped in their staff to assist with the repair of hospital beds and the renovation of buildings at the local state hospital, which served as quarantine facilities.

The private sector made donations towards basic equipment, including an oxygen plant.

The only equipment outstanding were washing machines, which were outdated and irreparably damaged.

The state hospital’s laundry was done in Windhoek for 11 years at a high cost.

Local businessman José Bastos rounded up industry players and acquired the necessary laundry equipment.

“At the time we knew the government had a difficult time financially because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drought.

We took the opportunity to assist with this important service for the community,” Bastos said.

Shangula commissioned the laundry machines, valued at N$1,1 million.

He expressed his appreciation for the donation and the business community’s handling of the pandemic.

“The support that the ministry has received during the pandemic has demonstrated the uniqueness of our togetherness and solidarity when faced with a common enemy. It is a potential we need to harness for the benefit of Namibians,” Shangula said during his visit to the Walvis Bay State Hospital.

He also undertook a tour of the hospital’s quarantine facilities.

To his surprise, there were only six patients in the general Covid-19 ward and none in the high care and intensive care units.

The minister urged Erongo residents to not let their guard down.

He said the biggest challenge the country is currently facing is the increasing number of patients who need hospitalisation.

Since 1 May the region has recorded 140 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths.

Kalumbi Shangula and Walvis, Bay business mogul Jose Bastos during the commissioning of the new laundry facilities at Walvis Bay State Hospital.

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