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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Namibia

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Namibia
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China (suspected)
30°35′14″N 114°17′17″E / 30.58722°N 114.28806°E / 30.58722; 114.28806
Index caseWindhoek, Khomas Region
Arrival date11 March 2020
(4 weeks and 1 day)
Confirmed cases16[1]

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic spread to Namibia, with the first confirmed cases announced on 14 March 2020[2] by Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula.


On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[3][4]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[5][6] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[7][5]

Confirmed cases

On 14 March 2020, Namibia reported its first cases of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2. They were a Romanian couple who arrived in Windhoek from Spain via Doha, Qatar, on 11 March. They had been screened on arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport but showed no symptoms at that time.[2] The couple recovered within 2 weeks.[8]

On 19 March 2020, a third case was confirmed. A 61-year-old German citizen, who arrived in Namibia on 13 March, remains in isolation and is in stable condition. As with the Romanian couple, all contacts were followed up and tested. By 25 March 2020 the total number of cases reached seven, of which one is thought to be a local transmission.[8] By 28 March, the total number of cases had reached 11, with all new cases being travel-related,[9] and by 6 April there were 16 cases overall and 3 recoveries. By that time, 362 tests had been conducted, 206 by the Namibian government through the Namibia Institute of Pathology, and 156 by South African laboratories.[10]

Government responses

In a first reaction on 14 March, when the first cases were confirmed, government suspended air travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany for 30 days. All public and private schools were closed for a month, and large gatherings were prohibited. This included celebrations for the 30th anniversary of Namibian independence that was to take place on 21 March.[11] Libraries, museums, and art galleries were also closed.[2] On 17 March President Hage Geingob declared a state of emergency as a legal basis to restrict fundamental rights, e.g. to freely move and assemble, guaranteed by the Constitution. The prohibition of large gatherings was clarified to apply to 50 or more people.[12]

Beginning 27 March, a 21-day lockdown of the regions of Erongo and Khomas was announced. Inter-regional travel was forbidden, excluding the commuter towns of Okahandja and Rehoboth. Parliament sessions were suspended for the same period, and bars and markets were closed.[8] "Large gatherings" were redefined to 10 people.[13] It was later clarified that the closure of bars applies to all of Namibia, not just the regions under lockdown.[14]

The water supply of households that were cut due to non-payment was ordered to be reconnected. This resulted in large crowds queuing at municipal offices in Windhoek, causing concern over the violation of social distancing.[15]

Impact on society

Caused by ambiguous information from government,[16] panic buying ensued in Erongo Region and selected shops in Windhoek.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Coronavirus Update (Live): 668,111 Cases and 31,016 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Outbreak - Worldometer". Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Nakale, Albertina (16 March 2020). "Corona mayhem". New Era. p. 1.
  3. ^ Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Matt (4 March 2020). "What is coronavirus and how close is it to becoming a pandemic?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Crunching the numbers for coronavirus". Imperial News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  6. ^ "High consequence infectious diseases (HCID); Guidance and information about high consequence infectious diseases and their management in England". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  7. ^ "World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – Coronavirus". Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Shikongo, Arlana (25 March 2020). "Partial lockdown in effect from Friday". The Namibian. p. 1.
  9. ^ Katjiheue, Charmaine (28 March 2020). "Update: Namibia confirms 11 Covid-19 infections". The Namibian.
  10. ^ Katjiheue, Charmaine (28 March 2020). "More coronavirus cases detected". The Namibian. p. 1.
  11. ^ Shikongo, Arlana (16 March 2020). "Namibia battles coronavirus". The Namibian. p. 1.
  12. ^ Ngatjiheue, Charmaine (18 March 2020). "Govt raises Covid-19 surveillance". The Namibian. p. 1.
  13. ^ Kahiurika, Ndanki (27 March 2020). "Countdown to lockdown". The Namibian. p. 1.
  14. ^ Miyanicwe, Clemans (28 March 2020). "Bars closed in Kunene and Otjozondjupa regions". The Namibian.
  15. ^ "Chaos erupts for free water reconnection". The Namibian. Nampa. 28 March 2020.
  16. ^ Steffen, Frank; Leuschner, Erwin (27 March 2020). "Ausgangsverbot ab Mitternacht" [Curfew from Midnight]. Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). p. 1.
  17. ^ Nembwaya, Hileni (27 March 2020). "Pick N Pay urges customers to desist from panic buying". The Namibian.