Lockdown extension imperative to save lives

THE empirical evidence provided by government this week to justify an extension of the lockdown to cover the whole country until May 4 shows that government is not only correct in this unpopular decision but must be supported by all stakeholders involved.

This week, President Hage Geingob announced that the Covid-19 lockdown will be extended from midnight on Friday, 17 April, to midnight on 4 May adding that the country will effectively re-open on 5 May.

Propelling this move, Health minister Kalumbi Shangula acknowledged that the current lockdown in Khomas and Erongo have not been efficient and there has been a breach of interventions with implications for potential community spread of Covid-19 within regions with confirmed cases.

With full understanding of how this makes a lockdown extension imperative, this period of time that we go into should provide a perfect opportunity to develop and put in place measures that will have to be taken when the time to lift it fully or in phases comes.

Admittedly, Namibia has done well so far owing to its decision to impose a lockdown early. We went into a lockdown not because Covid-19 was raging across the nation, but because we wanted to minimise its impact. For a week now we have not recorded a new case and such a benefit should be consolidated if we are to, in the near future claim victory over this invisible enemy, Covid-19.

Chiefly for us to accrue the benefits of this extended lockdown, we need to be compliant and stay at home if we are not essential service providers. Although government forced the majority of the people to stay out of the central business district, the situation in informal settlements is a different story altogether. In some areas, people continue to gather and mingle in huge numbers in defiance of calls to observe social distancing. It is therefore essential for people to be educated enough on the importance of staying in their homes during this lockdown period.

What we have observed is that there has been not much buy-in from the public, with the gospel of social distancing finding few takers. We also do appreciate that many of our communities are naturally densely-populated, which makes it difficult to enforce total lockdown. In this regard, it is important for government to scale up efforts to disseminate information on Covid-19 until people fully embrace it because in many instances, some people are still viewing Covid-19 as a joke far removed from them.

With very little doubt, the lockdown period is a painful one and more so for the country and its various sectors. This week we have learnt with heavy hearts that the country is losing billions weekly due to the standstill that has been effected by Covid-19. Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi this week said the Namibian economy is losing between N$1.7 billion and N$2 billion per week because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

What then would be reason of losing so much if we don’t gain from the lockdown as far as human life is concerned? We all need to play our part and ensure that we compliment government efforts at this time by doing what we are asked to do and this primarily is simply, staying at home.