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 26 Mar 2020

Law enforcement officers will be deployed at critical roadblocks and on the streets as government yesterday announced a lockdown of Erongo and Khomas regions from midnight 27 March until 16 April in order to curb the further spread of the coronavirus after positive cases hit seven. 

Of the seven who tested positive, three are Namibians, including a 21-year-old student, who returned from South Africa, a 44-year-old male pilot and a 19-year-old man who returned to the country on 18 March from London. 

Government has announced strict measures to contain the further spread, including imposing a 21-day lockdown, with the general public urged to remain indoors and avoid public gatherings like bars, shebeens, nightclubs and markets.

Workers offering essential services would be allowed to operate, however, government encouraged civil servants, as well as those in state-owned enterprises and the private sector to operate from home during the lockdown. 

“Special dispensation applies to business, commerce and trade missions and activities only from neighbouring countries, on a reciprocal basis, to facilitate the flow of supplies, goods, commodities and services into Namibia.”  

The government also announced a travel ban to all countries, while parliament has also been suspended from today until 14 April. 

“Special circumstances for the admission of certain persons into Namibia will be considered and approved by the relevant institutions, depending on the nature of travel to be undertaken, and the criticality of such mission to the national interest and safety and security of the Republic of Namibia,” said health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula.

“All returning Namibians and permanent residents arriving from high-risk countries are subjected to mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days, at own cost.” 
Government also closed down certain port of entries including border posts at Oshikango, Katwitwi, Wenela, Buitepos, Ariamsvlei, Noordoewer, Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. 

Key priority
Addressing the media at State House yesterday, President Hage Geingob, who had earlier declared a state of emergency, said the coronavirus pandemic was a threat to both the public healthcare system as well as the survival of businesses, jobs and livelihoods. “Our key priority is therefore to curb the spread of the disease,” Geingob said. “The government fully understands that these are extraordinary measures. They are adopted with the sole purpose of protecting the health, security and safety of the Namibian people. During this period, I call on all Namibians to cooperate with the authorities and to remain calm, in order to ensure that public order is not compromised. Allow the authorities to work unhindered".

The president also appealed to international cooperating partners and stakeholders in the private sector to support government’s response measures and mobilise resources to combat the further spread of the virus. Geingob personally pledged N$250 000 towards the fight against Covid-19, while there were also pledges from vice president (N$20 000), prime minister (N$10 500), deputy prime minister (N$10 100) and Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa (N$10 000).  Former health minister Bernhard Haufiku has been announced as the focal person to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Confirmed cases around the world hit the 400 000 mark yesterday, with over 17 500 deaths reported. -