By Arlana Shikongo
Windhoek — NAMIBIA will be on a partial lockdown with effect from Friday this week until 16 April in an attempt to curtail the further spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The 21-day lockdown will apply to the Khomas and Erongo regions specifically, and the country's borders will also be closed for travellers.
This was announced on Tuesday afternoon at a media briefing during which president Have Geingob laid out measures that will be implemented around the country.
"Today Cabinet met and received briefings on the status of Covid-19 in Namibia and deliberated on the next necessary measures to strengthen detection, testing, quarantine, isolation and contact tracing, to mitigate the further spread of this deadly virus,” Geingob said.
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula during the same briefing announced that internal travel restrictions will apply with respect to the Khomas and Erongo regions during the 21-day lockdown.
Former health minister Bernard Haufiku, who has been appointed as the coordinator of Namibia's efforts to combat the pandemic, during the briefing clarified that during the lockdown of Khomas, Rehoboth and Okahandja are assumed to be part of the region, so that commuters in the two towns would still be allowed to travel to and from Windhoek.
Roadblocks to ensure compliance with the lockdown will be placed south of Rehoboth and just north of Okahandja.
Shangula also detailed that ports of entry at Oshikango, Katwitwi, Wenela, Buitepos, Ariamsvlei, Noordoewer, Lüderitz and Walvis Bay will be closed to people.
Furthermore, the parliament will be suspended for 21 days from Wednesday, 25 March.
Namibia has now recorded seven positive cases of the virus, which includes three Namibians – one of which is suspected to be a local transmission – and four foreign nationals. This tally includes the Romanian couple which were the country's first two positive cases and who have since recovered.
The national response measures as detailed by Shangula will include a travel ban that is extended to all countries for a period of 30 days, and applies to all Namibians and permanent residents.
However, accommodation will be made for "special circumstances". Shangula said: “Certain persons coming 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.”
Shangula also said all returning Namibians and permanent residents arriving from high-risk countries will be subjected to a mandatory supervised quarantine period of 14 days, at their own cost.
"Admission of persons into Namibia from neighbouring countries for reasons contemplated above, will be considered,” he said.
Regarding trade, Shangula said special exemptions will apply. "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,” he said.
Furthermore, Shangula implored all government, state-owned enterprises and private sector employees to work from home for the next 14 days, except those providing critical services.
He said the categories of affected services will be announced in the next few days.
“The public is urged to remain at home and avoid public gatherings at places such as bars, shebeens, nightclubs and markets. The enforcement organs are to enforce these measures,” he said.