By Charmaine Ngatjiheue and Arlana Shikongo
Public transportation in and out of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis is prohibited, as the government imposes stringent measures in these towns to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
The government has opted to keep Erongo region at stage 3 of the exit plan to keep the spiking Covid-19 figures in check.
President Hage Geingob yesterday said the new control measures are done with the sole objective of containing the spread of the disease within and beyond Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis.
The rest of the country will, however, go into stage 4 of the state of emergency regulations exit plan.
Speaking on the Covid-19 status at Erongo region, Geingob said the extra measures come after 90% or 436 of the total 485 Covid-19-positive cases recorded in the country were coming from the Erongo region.
"At least 391 of these cases are specifically at Walvis Bay, with an 81% share of the total cases reported countrywide. It is clear that the local authority area of Walvis Bay has become the epicentre of the coronavirus in our country," the president said.
He further said over the past seven days, Walvis Bay recorded 294 of the 303 new Covid-19 cases confirmed.
Geingob said the remaining eight cases were reported in other regions, and six are travel-related to Walvis Bay.
Yesterday Namibia reported the highest number of new infections - with 73 cases confirmed, 72 of them from Walvis Bay and one from the Khomas region, but with a travel history to Walvis Bay.
"The rising number of cases at Walvis Bay warrants additional containment measures to slow down the rate of transmission and prevent the disease from spreading beyond the three local authority areas (Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis)," the president said.
Speaking at the same platform, health minister Kalumbi Shangula announced additional measures for Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis local authority areas.
"With the exponential increase of cases at Walvis Bay, the three local authority areas of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis will remain under stage 3 for a period of 28 days from 7 July 2020 until midnight on 3 August 2020," Shangula said.
The minister also said a travel ban will once again be imposed in those three local authority areas, with the exception of essential and critical services, and medical emergencies.
"This means that the only permits to be issued and authorised to travel into and out of the three local authority areas, will be provided for these categories. Travel between other towns in the Erongo region and to the rest of the country will be permitted," he said.
Shangula elaborated that travel out of and between the three areas will also not be permitted, and will be restricted only to the supply of essential and critical goods and services as defined in the regulations.
Other measures include the self-quarantine of caregivers employed in old-age homes to shield elderly persons from exposure; no resumption of face-to-face instruction at schools in those areas, and the restriction of visits by members of the public to correctional facilities, the minister detailed.
"Isolation of positive Covid-19 cases in terms of locations must be done in ways that do not introduce or increase harm to the community. This may include alternative isolation locations, including private facilities.
"The ministry will build in a level of flexibility in the quarantine of contacts, including the locations of such quarantine facilities, in ways that do not introduce or increase harm to the community. This may include home-based quarantine, when safe conditions for such quarantine can be established and verified against a standardised checklist," Shangula said.
He added that the number of people entering hospitals will also be minimised, and vigorous screening for symptoms will continue to be enhanced in an effort to protect the healthcare system, he explained.
Regarding the transportation of critical and essential goods, Shangula said truck drivers delivering such goods will be quarantined as per existing modalities applicable to the quarantine of cross-border truck drivers.
"Any person leaving the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis local authority areas to any part of the country, apart from providers of critical goods and services, will be quarantined for a period of 14 days at own cost," he said.
Shangula also said public transport from and into the three restricted areas is also prohibited during the 28-day period of the extended stage 3.
As per regulations for stage 3, the buying and sale of liquor will still be permitted between 12h00 and 18h00 from Monday to Friday, and 09h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. However, on-site consumption of alcohol remains prohibited and may only take place in private dwellings, Shangula said.
The minister also said the violation of these additional measures will incur a penalty.
"We would like to appeal to the inhabitants of these local authority areas to comply willingly and not to wait to be policed into compliance. This is done to protect yourselves, your family members and the Namibian nation. Together we can overcome Covid-19," he said.