2020 coronavirus pandemic in Namibia
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|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Namibia|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China (suspected)|
|Index case||Windhoek, Khomas Region|
|Arrival date||11 March 2020|
(4 weeks and 1 day)
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.
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. The couple recovered within 2 weeks.
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. By 28 March, the total number of cases had reached 11, with all new cases being travel-related, 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.
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. Libraries, museums, and art galleries were also closed. 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.
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. "Large gatherings" were redefined to 10 people. It was later clarified that the closure of bars applies to all of Namibia, not just the regions under lockdown.
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.
Impact on society
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