COVID-19 in the Namibian Context

Categories: Uncategorised.

The world is in uproar: COVID-19 has hit all over the globe. The disease has spread from China to the whole world in a matter of months. No matter how hard one tries, you cannot shy away from the reality of the situation. Luckily, partly due to swift government action, Namibia’s numbers have stayed very low.

Some facts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) situation report no 72:

  • Cumulatively, 31 cases have been confirmed in the country, and 16 have recovered
  • No deaths have been reported, and the case fatality rate is 0%
  • On 28 May 2020, it was announced that all regions (except for the Walvis Bay Local Authority Area) would transition from Stage 2 lock-down to State 3 with effect at midnight 01 June 2020 until 29 June 2020 (two incubation periods).

All this may seem like a lot to take in, but the summary is that Namibia is doing very well in the fight against COVID-19. However, as clichéd as it is, life goes on. How has the pandemic affected the average Namibian?

The virus was confirmed to have reached Namibia on 14 March 2020, and the country went into lock-down on 28 March, 20202. Panic buying broke out in the last week of March. Hygiene and cleaning products were some of the main items bought. Several retailers had increased the price of these products and are currently being investigated. Interestingly, the price of fruit was also hiked as there was an anticipated increase in home brewing after it was announced that the sale of alcohol would be prohibited. Due to the lock-down, crime rates and road accident rates have also decreased significantly.

Education is a major concern for citizens—especially the Grade 11s and 12s. Many students have expressed concerns and have even started a change.org petition with over 2,500 signatures in an attempt to convince the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to open schools earlier.

So just how does the average Namibian feel about all of this? There are several adverse effects of a lock-down situation, and one wonders—is there a silver lining? We spoke to a Namibian resident about their experience:

“Initially, it was a great shock to all of us! My husband is part of essential services, so he still works. I am a teacher, and we were on holiday so, initially, it felt normal. We have two children at university, and that was a great concern – getting them back safe and sound and in time for the border’s closing.

“I am a home-body myself, so I spent some time painting cupboards and so on. My husband is taking it harder as he is not allowed to travel to our farm.

“In terms of the government, we are impressed by how they have managed to contain the situation—closing the borders in such a short time frame. Things are functioning, and shops are being opened systematically.”

And on a lighter note? “The family time has been wonderful,” says Lily. “It has been so nice to have the two children back in the house. Although I do miss the camaraderie of the school. On the whole, we have been very blessed with our circumstances and are trying to maintain a positive outlook.”

For those that are suffering in the lock-down period, there are several tactics you can employ to keep sane and healthy during the outbreak:

  • Take time off from work (if you are working). Just because you can work 20 hours a day doesn’t mean you should.
  • Get some sun. Doctors say that vitamin D deficiency is a significant contributor to depression and anxiety.
  • Exercise! This cannot be stressed enough. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Just do it safely.
  • Wear your mask when out and about. A correctly worn mask covers both the nose and mouth at all times, even when you are speaking!

COVID-19 will remain with us for some time to come and, as we learn to adapt, it will become easier, so hold on Namibia!