Vigilance critical to avert fourth wave

AS the Omicron or B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant spreads more rapidly, Namibia must increase vigilance to prevent the variant from spreading beyond what is manageable and a repeat of what we experienced in the third wave.

Namibia has seen a surge in cases over the last week with over 600 new Covid-19 infections, compared to 78 cases reported in the same period a week before. This rise coincided with President Hage Geingob’s announcement this week that the country had also recorded 18 cases of the new variant. 

“If we don’t change our habits, the government will be left with no choice and with no option, but to take stricter measures ahead of the festive season. It is not a desirable course of action. However, if the cases continue to rise and the citizens don’t change their behaviour, it will be the only sensible thing to do.

“Protecting the health of our nation has always been the priority since the onset of this pandemic and the government will not hesitate to impose new measures in the interest of our nation,” Geingob warned in an address this week.

Indeed, this was a surprisingly conservative approach considering that the Omicron variant transmits quicker and is able to spread among fully vaccinated people which may have been born from critical questions that remain pending regarding the new variant.

The first is the transmissibility relative to previous variants. The second is the nature of the impact that it has on the people who get infected by it, which is a really important issue and a hard one for people to answer immediately. The third is, what’s the likely issue associated with this relative to the vaccines that are already available? And that question, we believe, maybe answered quickly.

Despite these questions, Namibia cannot allow itself to be complacent particularly when we are cognisant of the fact that our healthcare system is not among the world’s best. For this reason, potential implications of this virus must be treated 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 preventive efforts.

This responsibility currently has been temporarily put in the hands of the citizens, but as we have seen in the past, cases will continue to drastically rise and predictive measures particularly those targeting the consumption of alcohol should have been initiated now.

At the same time more needs to be done in terms of educating the public that staying at home will save lives. Similarly, more needs to be in educating people about vaccine uptake which is the only proven scientific way to fight Covid-19 and its numerous variants.

Thus far, 379 808 Namibians received their first doses, while 317 645 are fully vaccinated. Countries currently in their fourth wave are reaping the fruits of high vaccination rates, including South Africa (40 percent), United Kingdom (69 percent), United States (59 percent), Germany (69 percent) and France (70 percent).

With variants blossoming, it is time for Namibians to not only be responsible citizens but show greater character choosing the jab over conspiracy theories.