Windhoek – Namibia is in talks with Botswana and South Africa to expedite access to oxygen desperately needed in its hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
The country has been battling one of the worst spikes in COVID-19 infections in Africa. Health and Social Services Ministry statistics show that the country has been averaging 30 COVID-19 deaths daily for the past week.
During a tour of a major hospital this week, President Hage Geingob said, ““We have the worst of the situation here. We never expected it.”
Between Monday and Tuesday,
Namibia recorded 1,084 new coronavirus infections from 2,597 test results, representing a 42 percent positivity rate.
The number of deaths rose to 1,179 after 15 more fatalities were recorded in that period, while the number of recoveries rose by 808 to 60,484. A total of 104,530 people have so far been vaccinated with a first dose of Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines, according to the Health Ministry.
The surge in infections has resulted in hospitals struggling to meet oxygen needs for critical cases.
Health Ministry Executive Director Dr Ben Nangombe told The Southern Times that the government had reached out to Botswana and South Africa to expeditiously clear Namibian trucks carrying oxygen at their ports of entry.
“We currently have suppliers of oxygen but because of rising demand daily we have not been able to cope. On Sunday we made a request for supplies at Katutura Hospital and I am also informed that other private hospitals in the country have received supplies, but these continue to deplete faster than we are getting them because of high demand,” Dr Nangombe said.
“We have communicated with the suppliers to liaise with the relevant ministry should they face any delays at ports of entry and they will get the necessary assistance. We expect the situation to improve in coming weeks when the importation process becomes smoother.”
Dr Nangombe urged Namibians to get vaccinated.
“We are happy that we continue to see swelling numbers of people seeking vaccination. At present we are working towards improving vaccine supply so we can attain herd immunity. What we have seen so far is that countries that have vaccinated more people seem to be experiencing a decline in numbers of deaths and cases,” he said.
The Health Ministry’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms Petronella Masabane, said Namibia would take delivery of 150,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China by the end of June.
She added that the country would get 250,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines through an African Union facility, and negotiations with Russia for delivery of Sputnik vaccines were being finalised. In addition, the country expects to soon get 408,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Ms Masabane said the government was implementing a raft of measures – including staff recruitment, hospital capacitation and upgrading of facilities – to lessen the impact of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Namibia has recorded a series of new symptoms of COVID-19 since the beginning of the third wave of the pandemic in the country.
Dr Ferlin De Almeida-Schiceya, a supervisor at Robert Mugabe Clinic in the capital Windhoek, told Xinhua this week that they had recorded symptoms such as isolated back and abdominal pains, and stomach cramps.
She said while in the period between December 2020 and April 2021, dominant symptoms were severe headaches, dizziness, fever, flu, chest pains and congestion on the chest area, the third wave had brought new symptoms.
“Ever since the third wave which has reached its peak in June, we have had patients presenting symptoms such as back pains where you find a young person suffering from isolated back pains. Other unusual symptoms that are being presented by COVID-19 patients are abdominal cramps or discomforts in the stomach area,” said Dr Almeida-Schiceya.