Windhoek - Namibia has strengthened the capacity of its National Institution of Pathology to be able to screen the coronavirus locally, The Southern Times has learnt.
In an interview, the country’s Ministry of Health and Social Services, executive director, Ben Nangombe, said the development was made as a precaution against the coronavirus to ensure that results of the coronavirus test are obtained in the quickest time.
“The earlier we test and get the results of coronavirus, the more we are able to effectively handle suspected cases or confirmed cases in a manner that protects the public health. Last time when we had a suspected case at Swakopmund, our National Institute of Pathology had to send samples to South Africa while the victim was in isolation because we could not do the test locally,” said Nangombe.
He said Namibia had put in place measures that will ensure that if a coronavirus case was detected in the country, the infected person would receive some treatment to manage the virus close to the place where it would have been detected. Nangombe said the idea for such arrangements was established because there would be a larger risk of the virus spreading if the infected person travels a long distance.
“We have put up screening mechanisms at every port of entry and have deployed mobile field hospitals from the military to ensure that any detected coronavirus case receives supportive treatment required by the World Health Organisation (WHO). We have also instructed our regional health and district hospitals to set aside specific facilities that is able to accommodate suspected cases” said Nangombe.
While measures on the medical side are in place, the Ministry of Health and Social Service has also embarked on educational programmes to educate communities on coronavirus. Nangombe said his ministry had sent out communications to all the regional structures to raise awareness and alertness, so that people know how to protect themselves.
Namibia is coordinating with other SADC member states to ensure that the countries will have a collaborated approach towards the preparations of the coronavirus.
“The SADC member states have put measures in place to ensure that we coordinate our national efforts. In the past two weeks, they have been in several conference calls held by the SADC Secretariat where countries in the region have come together to update each other on what they are doing in their respective countries. This is being done so that countries in the region know what exactly is available in one country and another so that we are able to support each other with the necessary support. The process is required by WHO which suggests that countries in specific regions should coordinate and not do things in isolation,” said Nangombe.
Coronavirus are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The outbreak of the virus was in Wuhan, a city in China, and to date it has reportedly killed at least 1000 people, leaving at least 42 638 confirmed cases as at Tuesday 11 February, 2020.