Rustenburg – Air Namibia has temporarily suspended all domestic flights after President Hage Geingob on Wednesday imposed a strict lockdown following an increase in community transmissions of Covid-19.
“Domestic flight operation will resume on 30 August 2020,” the airliner said in a statement on Wednesday night, reassuring customers that all tickets purchased before August 12 would be offered one free change to a new travel date until October 31.
In an address broadcast on television, Geingob said it had taken Namibia four months to reach 1 000 Covid-19 cases but just 14 days to hit the 2 000 mark and a mere three days to surpass 3 000 cases.
“We must take informed decisions to safeguard both lives and livelihoods,” he said, adding the restrictions would remain in place until August 28.
“These have not been easy decisions to take, but they are necessary. The measures being put in place have one singular objective – to suppress the spread of Covid-19, so as to protect the lives of Namibians. The confirmation of clustered community transmissions is of great concern. If left unchecked, this pandemic will be catastrophic for our country in terms of lives lost, the economy and increased physical suffering due to illness.”
The president said there were now confirmed cases of the coronavirus in all 14 regions across the country.
“We are updating our models and projections to track the reality on the ground versus expectations … New cases in Windhoek have more than doubled over the past five days and are now outnumbering Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and the rest of the country,” he said.
Under the stricter restrictions, only ten people will be allowed at public gatherings including weddings, funeral services and church services, and movement between 8pm and 5am will be prohibited without a permit.
Face-to-face classes for grade 10, 11 and 12 learners will continue, but tertiary institutions will revert to online learning.
Geingob expressed concern that the African continent had reached one million confirmed cases of Covid-19, with half of those reported in neighbouring South Africa.
This put the southern Africa region at particular risk, he said, adding: “We are seeing cases rise rapidly.”