By Foibe N Paavo
SWAKOPMUND, May 21 – More than a million people have been tested for Covid-19 in Namibia since 2020 and more than 160 000 confirmed cases were recorded since then. However, the country has recorded a lower number of positive cases during the past few months and the number of recorded confirmed cases has been in the range of two digits.
Recently Namibia has experienced an increased number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. And these confirmed cases have consistently been in the range of three digits for some weeks now.
The surveillance lead at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Emmy-Else Ndevaetela, said that the number of hospitalisations has also recently picked up compared to some weeks or months ago when the country recorded zero admissions.
“By now we have more than 60 people across the country who are being hospitalised where some of them are getting into the severe stage or Critical Care Unit (ICU) and the number is picking up very slowly,” she said adding the vaccination coverage percentage is still at 30% which is really far lower than the desired percentage.
“We hear some people say, I’m vaccinated but I’m still infected. But as we all know, vaccination will only prevent you from getting into the severe stage and mostly will prevent you from dying. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee you freedom from attaining the virus.”
Incident Manager, Dr Akpablie James, stated that there are several factors that contributed highly to the cases that we are seeing currently and when the government relaxed their public measures, the number of Covid-19 cases surged.
Dr James also noted that one of the contributing factors is the relaxed public measures (use of masks and social distancing) that has been observed to increase the condition. And people carrying the virus are much more likely to transmit it to the next person. Although the biggest factor remains vaccination, as the vaccination levels are very low.
He further urged that the public needs to find a way of balancing public measures with their livelihood. The winter weather is also a contributing factor to the transmission of the virus.
“It’s important that we carefully consider which gatherings to attend in enclosed environments that have minimal ventilation, as it poses a higher risk. It’s also important to get tested so that you get preventative measures to protect others (friends, family and coworkers) from getting the virus,” he said.
“Vaccination has been so far proven safe and effective and it’s the best way to protect ourselves against severe disease and worse, death. It’s also the main tool that we have to protect our loved ones” said Kathryn Welter-Savio, public health preparedness advisor at the Centres for Disease Control in Namibia.
Mrs Ndevaetela confirmed that so far there’s evidence that an Omicron variant is the one driving the country’s infections, with the last Nomadic Sequencing Report pointing to or confirming the existence of the Omicron sub-variant which is called BA.4.
“As much as we are seeing the surge in the number of cases, it’s still quite low compared to those we had during the same time last year.”
Although neighbouring countries have already confirmed the sub-variant BA.5, Namibia is yet to confirm it.
“When we look at the cases in the last two weeks or so, our cases have increased by more than 20% … and that means we started resurging,” Ndevaetela said.
She also expressed concern that in a matter of just two days, the figures doubled, which is a clear indication that the country is moving into the 5th wave.
“It might not be worse than the one we had experienced before, due to the given different factors, but it’s a different figure compared to where we were at the same time last year”.
She also observed that the variant driving the infections this time seemed not to be causing more severe cases compared to the Delta variant which the country dealt with last year.
“We need to do all we can, to ensure that we remain vigilant and are in control of the transmission as we cannot overemphasise the measures we have in place,” Ndevaetela concluded.
The contributions were recorded during a Livestream broadcast by the Namibian Government Information Centre. – Namibia Daily News
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