Ignorance is bliss


Ben Nangombe; Executive director MoHSS; “There is nothing government is hiding,”

The community affairs commander for the Erongo region Ileni Shapumba . Photo Otis Finck

Walvis Bay • leandrea@republikein.com.na The construction of a 150-bed containerised isolation medical facility located behind the Walvis Bay State Hospital is on track. The facility comes as an additional measure to compliment the Corona Care Campaign launched by the Welwitschia Hospital earlier this month. The campaign is aimed at assisting the state hospitals in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay in case of a corona outbreak. A slight hiccup was experienced on Friday after an apparent directive was needed from the ministry of health. This halted the construction process for two hours before it resumed. It is expected that the centre will be up and running within three weeks. The lockdown of the region which commenced on Friday at 00:01 leading into Saturday morning was met with mixed reactions. Upon a drive through the Walvis Bay CBD, one still noticed shops filled with people not paying attention to the one metre social distancing measure. On the other hand, most shops at Dunes Mall were closed. Retailers like Pick n Pay, Checkers, DisChem, Clicks and shops in the food court made people queue outside and only allowed 10 persons in at a time. The Namibian police as well as the Namibian Defence Force had their hands full at Shop 4 Value in Kuisebmond. The queued outside was long and for many it was business as usual. The fact that it was month-end and people had money for shopping resulted in the general public not adhering to the lockdown rules. A party-like atmosphere prevailed at the coast. Warnings Walvis Bay senior traffic officer Clifton Jacobs said more than 50 people were warned for not adhering to Covid-19 lockdown measures. He commended members of the taxi industry for doing their part and cooperating with measures introduced to contain the spread of the virus. “Our biggest concern is that people are simply ignoring the 1 metre distance measure at ATMs, banks and in shops. There are still too many children and people on the streets and too many persons driving around needlessly. We have a problem and it will not be solved without cooperation. The army is now coordinating the lockdown operation with the police and members of the traffic force. This is an ongoing operation and it is now in full swing.” Jacobs added that the biggest problem was the movement of people during the day. “People are still going to the shops accompanied by their children. We need to curb our movement patterns. It is relatively quieter in the evenings because shops, clubs and shebeens are all closed. Rather stay at home. It is to your own benefit.” The community affairs commander for the Erongo region Ileni Shapumba also emphasized the importance of staying indoors. “The movement of people is a concern. We have blocked key roads, especially in the Kuisebmond and Mondesa. We have respect for human rights but people should understand we are in a State of Emergency. This must be respected and conditions have to be adhered too. We are intensifying our operations and cannot continue educating people forever.” Shapumba added that it also appears that people are selling alcohol from homes, including some tuck shops. “This behaviour is unacceptable. We call upon all neighbours to observe and give us tip offs without delay. It's time that our neighbourhood watch groups and community anti-crime forums embrace the concept of observe and report.” The situation at the Yianni Savva police station roadblock was calm and controlled. Not many people were observed travelling between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. This was welcomed as a good thing. No serious accidents were reported since Friday. This could be due to the fact that there are now less cars on the roads. Fake news In the meantime various fake news, in the form of WhatsApp voice notes started circulating. One such voice note implied that two employees of Hangana Seafood Walvis Bay tested positive for the coronavirus. O&L spokesperson Roux-Che Locke slammed this as fake news. “We are aware of the clip circulating and we are trying to trace the source(s).” According to another voice note, 83 positive cases were identified in Walvis Bay. This is apparently also the reason for the quick action to build a containerized emergency medical facility. The person also implied that government is hiding the real extent of the Covid-19 pandemic. The executive director of the ministry of health and social services Ben Nangombe said that government is not hiding a thing. “For the past three years, the ministry has had plans to build a 12-bed isolation unit in Walvis Bay, using prefab technology. The private sector has come on board to expand the facility in light of Covid-19. There is nothing sinister going on.” Dr Bernard Haufiku, who is in the frontline in the fight against Covid-19, also confirmed that there are no positive cases registered in Walvis Bay, or the entire Erongo region. This was backed up by Dr Amir Shakir as well as Anna Jonas, from the regional health directorate. Dr Amir Shakir advised people to wait for confirmed and verified information from the minister of health Dr Kalumbi Shangula, himself or the executive director Ben Nangombe. “Some members of the public are spreading misinformation, trying to instil fear and panic. We’ve already closed all the borders, the airport and the harbour, plus we are on lockdown.”

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