With 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, the government is adapting a whole government and blended approach to the response. Over 8 billion Namibian Dollars have been committed to stimulating the economy, provide social protection support and support health sector response. The newly launched COVID-19 Communication Centre provides a platform for all sectors to engage the public on key issues affecting their respective sector in relation to the COIVD-19 lock-down guidelines. The Centre is interactive, with journalists given an opportunity to ask questions during the daily live press conference as well as through a dedicated email address.
The Centre was jointly launched on 2 April 2020 by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula and the Minister of Information, Communication Technology, Dr. Peya Mushelenga. Government will host two daily press conferences. The morning press briefing will address issues of non-health sectors while the afternoon briefing is dedicated to the health sector response.
Namibia has mobilized leadership through the presidency to support the COVID 19 response plan. A -multi-sectoral national coordination mechanism is established which at a time is extended to include senior leadership of all government ministries under the leadership of the Secretary to Cabinet. Generally, the National Health Emergency Coordination Committee is chaired by the Incident Manager of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The government has adapted the WHO 8 pillars for the management of the response:
- Coordination, management and logistics
- Case Management
- Infection Prevention and Control
- Points of Entry
- Risk Communication and Community Engagement
- Mental Health and Psycho-social support
As a precautionary measure, the Head of State implemented a phased-in approach to the lock-down procedures soon after the first two confirmed cases. Following a statement to ban international travel, mass gatherings and mandatory quarantine measures, the government consulted stakeholders on how these can be operationalized. These extended to a lock-down in Khomas and Erongo Regions, closing of non-essential services and strengthening immigration control. A total nation-wide lock-down is now in place following further consultations with non-health sectors and addressing labour, social protection and mitigating economic effects of a nation-wide lock-down.
WHO as part of the all UN support to government remains committed to providing technical guidance to the f health sector response and have increased capacity in coordination, surveillance and case management. Efforts are underway for additional capacity in other areas of the health response.