Lockdown enforcement must be amplified

AS we are about to enter the second week of a lockdown to contain a blowout of the coronavirus which has left the entire globe facing an uncertain future, government needs to step up enforcement efforts if the real benefits are to be realised quicker.

There is no doubt that in the past week, the public response to the lockdown has been erratic. In Windhoek, companies largely observed the lockdown despite some malcontents defying the ban. In other places like Katutura and with churches in particular, the story is different where many even today are out and about going about their business as if things are normal.

The defiance which boggles the mind raises key questions that remain unanswered. Why do people need the police or the army to order them to obey a decree that is clearly for their benefit? The body bags we have seen on international television of the victims of the virus are staggering. What more does the government need to do to make people understand the danger to their very lives?

In other parts of the country where guidelines of the State of Emergency need to apply we have also seen defiance despite the police moving in swiftly to take charge. This week, we reported that police charged a man in the Omusati region after 350 people were found gathered at his residence at Oshikushashipya village for prayer. Police in the Zambezi region fined 21 people for contravening regulations of the State Emergency and arrested two bartenders for operating.  In Erongo, one person was fined N$4 000 for contravening that regulation and operating without a liquor license.  In Kunene, two people were each fined N$2 000 and another in Karas was fined N$2 000 for contravening regulations of the State of Emergency. In Ohangwena, four were fined while two bartenders were also arrested for operating.

It should be noted with clarity that in our case, more needs to be done in terms of educating the public that staying at home will save lives. Similarly, more needs to be done to ensure that those that are not offering essential and critical services would surely stay at home. In this regard, our enforcement needs to be amplified with probably the deployment of more bodies to enforce the lockdown.

We cannot deny that our healthcare system is not among the world’s best and that is why we need to treat the potential implications of this virus with extreme urgency. Any mass infections will surely lead to thousands of deaths. COVID-19 can tear through mass populations at lightning speed and Namibia’s unprotected communities can suffer mass casualties if we do not strengthen our current efforts.

Most European countries, notably Italy, Spain, US and the United Kingdom took a liberal view of the virus and the measures. The results are plain to see. We cannot take those chances. Let’s comply with the guidelines that have been prescribed by the authorities and it will save your life and that of your loved ones. We vehemently call on the authorities deal with those who willingly defy these and put the lives of other Namibians in danger.