Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have escalated their response to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus.

Currently,  South Africa is the only country in SADC with confirmed cases.

The following round-up lists what SA’s neighbours are doing to contain contamination.

Namibia

Testing for  COVID-19 is now available in Namibia where, to date, nine suspected cases have been recorded. At the time of publication, only four of these had been tested and all were negative.

“The Namibia Institute of Pathology is able to carry out confirmatory tests for COVID-19,” said Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula.

The Minister added that the Head of State, Dr Hage Geingob had visited Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek to see the screening systems and isolation facilities that are in place, as well as the military field hospital which has been deployed at the airport.

In a statement yesterday, medical professionals were advised to ensure that diagnoses of suspected cases were done with prudence so that only specimens from cases that meet the standard case definition are sent for confirmatory tests to ensure the most efficient utilisation of resources.

Addressing the mass repatriation of approximately 500 Namibians currently in China, Shangula said it was not advisable to repatriate such a large number of citizens at once. “This is because such an action goes against the advice and recommendations from the WHO regarding the exportation and importation of the disease into countries,” He added that this did not prohibit Namibians from any part of the world from travelling home of their own volition.

 

Zimbabwe

A meeting among major tourism players in Zimbabwe, Ministry officials and the country’s World Health Organization representative resulted in the Zimbabwean tourism industry agreeing to set up a COVID-19 response committee.

In attendance was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Munesu Munodawafa, Minister of Health and Child Care, Obediah Moyo, his permanent secretary, Dr Agnes Mahomva, and WHO Representative, Dr Alex Gasasira.

“Government is working closely with global experts, other governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of its outbreak in the country,” said Moyo.

The meeting emphasised a need for improvement in the areas of prevention, surveillance, monitoring, and access to care and awareness. “The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) and the entire tourism industry stand ready to work closely with all those communities and countries affected by the current health emergency, to build a better and more resilient sector,” said TBCZ President, Winnie Muchanyuka.

 

Botswana

Officials in Botswana have met to discuss plans, following the recent confirmation of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Dr Lemogang Kwape, Minister of Health & Wellness, and Kabo Morwaeng, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance & Public Administration were in attendance.

“The Minister is committed to strengthening work relations, smooth processes to enable timely procurement of commodities, bring together resources to strengthen response and preparedness of the country against COVID-19,” said a statement from the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Botswana has had 14 suspected cases of the virus, all of which tested negative.