SIXTEEN health professionals, who came into contact with a doctor who tested positive for Covid-19, are in self-isolation.

A member of the medical staff at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York City, United State of America. Image used for illustrative purposes. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP

This includes six doctors, five interns and five nurses.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula yesterday confirmed this to The Namibian.

The health ministry said over the weekend the 46-year-old medical practitioner, who is one of the latest positive cases, had travelled to South Africa.

He was tested on 30 March at the Robert Mugabe Clinic after complaining of a fever, chills, body aches and a sore throat.

Sources claim he had to insist on getting tested.

On 4 April, his results returned positive. The medical professional is now in isolation and is reportedly in a stable condition.

The Namibian understands the doctor is a surgeon, who until last month, worked at the Windhoek Central Hospital and Katutura Intermediate Hospital performing surgery.

The government has been mum on how medical doctors are affected by the virus.

They are often referred to as health professionals without key details of potential exposure.

Several doctors are now worried more people could be at risk.

The minister insisted yesterday that the infected doctor’s family members are unaffected.

“His spouse, child and housekeepers have all tested negative, and no other contact has tested positive so far. Contact tracing is ongoing. No definite number has been determined for now,” Shangula said yesterday.

So far, two health professionals have tested positive for Covid-19 as the total number of cases in Namibia stands at 16.

Three of these cases have already recovered.

Shangula expressed concern about healthcare workers contracting Covid-19.

He said frontline workers are at risk globally, because when patients present with symptoms at healthcare facilities, their status is not known.

“Employers must ensure health workers are well protected and taken care of by providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and that they are well trained on the correct use thereof. Equally, healthcare workers are required to take extra precautions and treat each patient as a high-risk case,” he said.

Some health practitioners are now contemplating refusing to attend to coronavirus patients in the absence of protective gear.

Others have been encouraging colleagues to wear appropriate gear and follow guidelines.

Shangula has previously denied allegations of a shortage of protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Private hospitals are also not spared allegations of negligence and failing to protect employees.

A healthcare worker at a private hospital told The Namibian yesterday he was concerned about the safety of his colleagues.

Around 385 Covid-19 tests have been conducted countrywide.

Of these, 299 were negative, and two undetermined, which means they have to be redone, said Dr Ismael Katjitae, who serves on the Covid-19 case management committee.

“Some 31 tests have been discarded and the results for 18 tests are pending. Generally, our numbers are still at 16, and we have been able to keep our numbers at a relatively low rate. We hope they remain that way. Of all the patients we have, we do not have any critical cases,” Katjitae told the media yesterday.

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