Namibians adjust social patterns as COVID-19 rages on

People queue outside testing center in Windhoek, Namibia, to be tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday June 15, 2021. /VCG
People queue outside testing center in Windhoek, Namibia, to be tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday June 15, 2021. (Dirk Heinrich via VCG)

Late morning at a far-flung village in the Oshana region, northern Namibia, self-employed Selma Shilongo remained indoors, contrasting her once active social life.

“In the past, by this time, I would be somewhere networking or busy with field interventions, but have been indoors for a while now as encouraged by the government to avoid contracting COVID-19,” the 39-years-old Shilongo said on Monday.

As COVID-19 continues to run rampant through Namibia, dwellers in Namibia’s northern and north-eastern parts adjust social patterns as the COVID-19 epicenter shifts.

The Namibian government recently announced that the country’s COVID-19 epicenter is shifting from central Khomas, Otjozondjupa regions and coastal Erongo region to other regions, including the northern and northeastern parts.

“We are monitoring the rising incidence curve in the Oshana and Kavango East regions,” said Namibian President Hage Geingob during the country’s 31st COVID-19 public briefing last week.

For young Meke Fanuel, who works in the Oshana region, wearing a mask and sanitizing has become part of her daily life priorities.

“Not only to protect me but also my loved ones and immediate community. I have also been vaccinated,” said Fanuel.

Meanwhile, she is encouraging others to take precautions and consider inoculation.

“Hopefully, others will find the courage to get vaccinated and further motivate others, so we reach our targets for herd immunity,” she added.

The elderly in rural areas in the region are also taking extra care amid the high death rate amongst the senior citizens in the country. Records by the Ministry of Health and Social Services show that as of July 15, 55 percent of fatalities were recorded among people above 60 years.

Efforts to avoid contracting the disease include minimized socialization, visitations and gatherings.

“But if attending one or two gatherings such as funerals, we keep a safe physical distance, sanitize regularly,” said Kayi Iita, a-68-years old pensioner.

Dwellers are also maximizing on the radio to get factual information on COVID-19. “Radio has been instrumental. It helps us keep abreast of the new COVID-19 variant, number of cases, precautionary measures and vaccination. I religiously listen to the news and other programs in the indigenous language,” said Agatus Timothy, an old-aged citizen from a village in the Oshana region.

Dwellers also employ other home remedies such as steaming and improved their diet.

“We included other supplementary foods and fruits rich in Vitamin C and nutrients that would boost the immune system,” said Tomas Hausiku from a village in the Kavango East region.

In parallel, the Namibian government has since extended the Public Health Regulations from July 15, for another 14 days until July 29, 2021.

In the interim, traditional leaders have also echoed the efforts of the government, urging locals to adhere to regulations in place.

The King of the Ondonga Traditional Authority in northern Namibia, Fillemon Shuumbwa, consulted and wrote to various traditional leaders and headmen to enforce regulations and promote adherence at the grassroots.

“I urge all communities and individuals to follow regulations in place. These include ceasing visitations and avoiding large gatherings,” Shuumbwa said.

Namibia has so far recorded 112,160 cumulative confirmed cases with 2,506 deaths.

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