Nangombe urges implementation of Covid-19 prevention protocols during Geingob memorials

Ben Nangombe

Ministry of Health and Social Services executive director Ben Nangombe has urged mourners and sympathisers attending memorials for president Hage Geingob to implement Covid-19 prevention protocols. Nangombe said this given the fact that there are Covid-19 cases being reported, particularly at Rehoboth in the Hardap region, and that mass gatherings of people are super-spreaders of Covid-19.

Nangombe said no other town in the country has reported new Covid-19 cases.

At Rehoboth, 20 new cases of pupils testing positive for Covid-19 were reported since 8 February till Friday.

“The test will never be able to tell where an infection came from. It just means that we have a cluster of infections that have formed in that community. We are not able to say where it has come from, but the fact of the matter is that it is there.

“The public is very aware of measures that need to be taken, keeping proper hygiene, wearing masks, avoiding crowded gatherings and those tested positive and close contacts of positives must keep a distance from others,” said Nangombe. He urged that pupils going on out-weekend during the long-weekend of the late president’s burial be isolated or be placed in quarantine to avoid spreading the infection to other communities.

“As you know, the education ministry has declared that weekend an out-weekend, so we at health and the directorate of education are consulting and speaking regularly and we are giving guidance with the necessary protocols on how to handle the current situation and how to go forward,” said Nangombe.

Acting director of health in the Hardap region Berit Platt on Saturday told The Namibian that current Covid-19 cases at Rehoboth had increased at an alarming rate.

“Most of the cases are concentrated at Dr Lemmer High School, with 20 confirmed cases since 8 February, of which 11 have recovered and nine are active,” said Platt. However there are no hospitalisations, nor persons admitted to the intensive care unit,” said Platt.

Platt noted the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered when a Grade 2 teacher from St Joseph’s Primary School and a Grade 11 pupil from Dr Lemmer High School tested positive on the same day, while cases increased rapidly.

“There are two more schools – Acacia Primary School and JTL Beukes Primary School – that also tested positive, although the total amount of learners is currently being verified. Thus we have instructed the regional education directorate on Friday to postpone all intersports activities planned for the week 19-23 February and enforce all Covid-19 health and safety protocols,” said Platt.

He said the regional health authorities also activated a mobile Covid-19 testing team to conduct rapid testing at school hostels at Rehoboth. “On Friday, we went to the hostels of Dr Lemmer High School and St Joseph’s Primary School to do testing on site to prevent people from coming to the hospital and standing in long queues. We informed the schools to implement all safety protocols concerning Covid-19 and to implement quarantine for five days,” said Platt. He urged for continued protection and enforcement of Covid-19 safety measures such as the wearing of masks, sanitising and social distancing at schools, while contact tracing and case searches to identify symptomatic and asymptomatic cases are done by the health authorities.

“We do not want people to panic. However, we need to be proactive since the strand found in the pathology reports indicate it is a Covid-19 strand. You can treat it as an influenza but should the strand start mutating, we do not know how strong it can be. Therefore, we are avoiding mass gatherings to prevent cross infections because many of Rehoboth residents smoke, some are vaccinated and others not. We don’t want people to end up with long Covid,” said the health director.

Platt said this is a health issue with verified data from their labs that have also been communicated at national level.

Education director in the Hardap region Gerhard Ndafenongo confirmed that Covid-19 prevention measures have been put in place.

“Measures taken include health education to the learners and teachers on physical distancing, wearing of masks and hand sanitising. Positive cases and their close contacts are isolating at homes and are being tested at appropriate intervals,” said Ndafenongo.

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