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Namibia’s Covid-19 pandemic state of emergency will expire at midnight tonight (Thursday), president Hage Geingob has announced.
Geingob said at State House in Windhoek this afternoon that following the novel coronavirus outbreak in March, he declared the pandemic as a national disaster with the support of the National Assembly.
He said the idea was to safeguard the health of Namibians while ensuring the economy stayed intact. He, however, added that the economy was adversely affected by the state of emergency regulations. In line with that, the president said scientific evidence showed that no action would have led to far greater community transmissions of the coronavirus.
He said the average number of confirmed cases now continues on a downward trajectory, from 300 cases a day to 63 new cases reported on Wednesday this week. He added that Walvis Bay, which was the epicentre of the outbreak in Namibia, has only reported three new cases today, while Windhoek reported 62 new cases.
“This is indicative that measures to suppress spread have worked,” Geingob said.
Geingob said the state of emergency upon expiring would not be extended. Moving forward the situation would be monitored for 14 days and appropriate measures would be introduced on 18 September.
The president added that this was a defining moment for the country to combat Covid-19. He called on the public to adhere to the set health protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus and Covid-19.
He stressed that the possibility of a second wave of infections can be expected and the country was not out of the woods yet.
He was confident that through the challenging times the country experienced, it developed a way to deal with it, Geingob said.
Geingob added that Namibia would emerge stronger than before from an unprecedented pandemic. He paid tribute to uniformed personnel and frontline healthcare workers, and also to the people who have lost their lives to Covid-19.
The minister of health and social services, Kalumbi Shangula, added that the government has allocated N$720 million to fighting Covid-19, with 88% of those funds utilised so far.
He said the investment made it possible for the country to best deal with the pandemic. He said in the past six months the country has exceeded its testing capacity of roughly 35 000 first-time tests, with more than 80 000 tests conducted. He reiterated that Namibia is third in the world in terms of the number of tests conducted considering the size of the population.
He added that the country has also quarantined more than 13 000 people at the government’s costs since the lockdown was imposed.
Shangula added the government would continue to invest in the relevant tools to combat the pandemic.
Shangula also said the government would continue to roll out targeted testing. He added that the successes reported in fighting the pandemic was because Namibians met the government halfway in addressing the potentially deadly disease. He expressed gratitude to Namibians, calling on them to continue in the same vein in terms of the ‘new normal’.
Justice minister Yvonne Dausab said certain measures will continue to apply, and encouraged Namibians to not stop applying the measures set out. She added that the coronavirus is still with Namibians and people should continue to protect themselves.
Two laws – the Public Health Act and the Public and Environmental Health Act – will be used to guide Namibians on how to deal with the pandemic, said Dausab.
Attorney general Festus Mbandeka said the public needs to learn to live with the novel coronavirus and take collective responsibility in dealing with the virus. He said face-to-face learning would continue, wearing of masks would be mandatory, public gatherings would remain restricted to 50 people and all businesses would be allowed to operate – but subject to various restrictions and health measures.
He added that restrictions have been lifted for alcohol to be sold for on-site consumption until 22h00 and gambling houses and casinos would be allowed to operate as well until that time.
The restrictions around Khomas region would be removed and the curfew lifted, while borders would open through Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Mbandeka also said limitations on public transport would remain in place while contact sports would be allowed under strict conditions.