A total 514 learners between the ages of five and 19 years have contracted COVID-19 between the resumption of schools on 26 January and 13 February 2021.
The Namibia COVID-19 situation report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that the country had recorded 4 484 COVID-19 cases among persons aged 5-19 by 13 February 2021, since the outbreak of the pandemic. This shows an increase of 514 since the report of 26 January 2021 entailing that 3 970 COVID-19 cases were recorded among the same age group.
‘The number of cases continues to flare up from the various schools among learners and teachers,’ the report noted.
In addition, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula reported on Monday, 15 February 2021 that out of the 273 new cases recorded that day, 182 were learners, of which 101 learners are from Ekulo Senior Secondary School in the Oshikoto Region.
‘The Ministry of Health and Social Services is currently working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and other stakeholders to urgently address the increase in cases among learners. We urge all school authorities, teachers, learners and parents to assist in this fight against the further spread of COVID-19 infection in schools. Learners are strongly encouraged to strictly adhere to the existing COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures,’ Shangula said.
Executive Director in the Education Ministry, Sanet Steenkamp acknowledged the rising cases among school learners and teachers, noting that Kavango East, Kavango West as well as Oshikoto are the most affected regions.
‘We have put protocols and measures in place already. It is a matter of behaviours and discipline. People are not taking proper precaution, they take breaks from wearing masks and that is where the problem lies,’ Steenkamp said.
She said education officials and regional directors have vast experience gained since 2020 when the pandemic broke out and there are task forces both at the regional and school level that are working in coordination with the Health Ministry to ensure that swift response is taken when someone tests positive for the virus.
“Our message to everyone is that if a teacher or a learner is ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms, please don’t send them to school. Keep them in isolation from the others in order to contain the virus,” Steenkamp said.