Windhoek, July 6-President Hage Geingob and the Minister of Health and Social Services today announced additional measures to tackle the issue of Coronavirus in the coastal towns of Erongo Region, specifically Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, and Arandis. Four Hundred and eighty five (485) cases of COVID-19 have so far been reported in the country since the Index Case on 13 March 2020.
Of the total number of cases confirmed nationally, 436 (or 90 percent) are from the Erongo region, with 391 of these cases specifically in Walvis Bay. Only a few number of cases have been reported countrywide, which has made the local authority area of Walvis Bay the epicenter of the spread of coronavirus in the country. Many cases in Walvis Bay have been domestic transmission which has made it difficult to contain the virus in the coastal town.
President Hage Geingob announced that given the raising number of cases, it is necessary to apply rational and targeted interventions to respond effectively to this situation. “The rising number of cases at Walvis Bay warrants additional containment measures to slow the rate of transmission and prevent the disease from spreading beyond the three Local Authority Areas”, he said.
The President announced that among these measures is the will on government’s part to decongest the informal settlements. He said “to decongest informal settlements in the three local authority areas, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, together with the Regional and Local Authorities will identify suitable venues or facilities with adequate provision of water and ablution facilities, where residents can be temporarily relocated”. According to the President, he has already requested the Governor to investigate the feasibility of using the unallocated Mass Houses at both Swakopmund and Walvis Bay to place people there. The Governor has reported that 60 Mass Houses are available at Walvis Bay and 100 at Swakopmund.
With the lack of evidence at the moment of transmission of the virus within the community, in the rest of the country. President Hage Geingob announced that the current STAGE 4 measures will be maintained for all 13 regions with exception of the Erongo region, which remains under STAGE 3 for a period of 28 days from the 7th July 2020 until midnight on the 3rd August 2020.
In his speech at State House today, the Minister of Health and Social services Dr Kalumbi Shangula while clarifying the additional measures for the Coastal tows added that “the cordon to restrict the movement of people into and out of the three Local Authority Areas will be reinforced as a travel ban, with exception of the movement of essential and critical goods and services, and medical emergencies”. Which means that the only permits to be issued and authorized to travel into and out of the three Local Authority Areas, will be for the categories provided? Travel between other towns in the Erongo region and to the rest of the country, will be permitted, with exception of the restricted Local Authority Areas. Schools in the restricted areas are not allowed to resume face-to-face instruction. Learners who find themselves in the restricted areas will also not be permitted to travel out of that restricted area to other parts of the country, owing to the inherent risks.
Kalumbi said that, any person leaving the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis Local Authority Areas to any part of the country, apart from providers of critical goods and services, will be quarantined for a period of fourteen (14) days at own cost. Drivers of trucks and other vehicles delivering critical and essential services travelling from Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis Local Authority Areas, will be quarantined as per existing modalities applicable to the quarantine of cross border truck drivers and providers of essential goods and services.
Inhabitants of the three local authority areas are urged to wear masks correctly when in public places, keep a distance of not less than 1.5 meters from one another, wash hands as frequently as possible, keep on sanitazing and refrain from touching the mouth, nose, eyes and face.
Joseph NM Tobias