NAMIBIA – Namibian President Hage Geingob has declared that wearing of masks in public within the country and COVID-19 diagnostic testing for vaccinated visitors are no longer required amid declining COVID-19 infection rates.
The new regulations come after the World Health Organization adjusted the outbreak from a pandemic to an endemic disease.
Although infections peaked at more than 30,000 per month in June 2021, the country has recorded an average of 14 cases per day during the last seven days with the total active cases at 222.
The President advised people in closed spaces such as on public transport or in indoor public meetings to continue wearing masks despite Namibia’s relaxation of COVID-19 rules.
Moreover, the size of public gatherings has been adjusted from 500 to 1 000 people as the country marks progress amid the ongoing pandemic.
He announced that fully vaccinated travelers to Namibia no longer needed to produce negative PCR test results and were only allowed to produce a valid COVID-19 vaccination card at points of entry.
“Travelers who are not fully vaccinated must produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test result that is not older than 72 hours from the date of the test and was issued by a certified laboratory in the country of issue,” emphasized President Hage Geingob.
Additionally, President Hage Geingob pleaded with Namibians to get inoculated for COVID-19 as vaccination remains the most effective measures in the country’s national response against the pandemic.
US$20 million spent on COVID-19 vaccine procurement
Meanwhile, Namibia has spent over NAD 300 million (US$20m) on COVID-19 vaccine procurement without including consumables like syringes and test kits but its vaccination rates remain off target.
The recommended population coverage to achieve national herd immunity is 60% and only 21.4% of Namibia’s eligible population of 1.7 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Health and Social Services Minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has said that the country would seek to double the effort to vaccinate 60% of the country’s population as well as introduce several new measures to drive vaccine uptake.
Currently, Namibia has more than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock and distribution is done weekly especially targeting areas where the vaccines are in demand.
“If we don’t utilize the vaccines, they will end up going to waste which will be economical inefficiency because these are resources that the government has set aside in order to protect the nation,” insisted Dr Kalumbi Shangula.
He stressed that it would also be wasting resources donated by the country’s development cooperation partners and encouraged people to make use of the life-saving supplies through getting vaccinated.