Namibian taxi drivers turning weak link in COVID-19 fight as cases surge

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Festus Adams, a 38-year-old taxi driver, sits in his car, picking up passengers along the road in Namibia’s capital Windhoek, for him and his fellows, observing coronavirus regulations is a thing of the past.

“We wore masks and used sanitizers in the early days but it is not necessary anymore,” Adams said.

In his view, COVID-19 is a myth that governments are using to intimidate and instil fear in citizens.

“Have you ever seen anyone with the coronavirus,” he asks his passengers who insist that he wears a mask to protect himself and his passengers.

Adams who has been a taxi driver for over 15 years is adamant not to observe the rules while he also complains that wearing a mask makes it difficult for him to breathe.

“No one will tell me what to do. It is my life and I will do what I want with it,” Adams said.

Namibia is currently experiencing a second wave of coronavirus recording over 500 daily numbers of infections since the two index cases were recorded in March.

To date, the country has recorded 19 299 positive cases and 180 deaths.

Meanwhile, back at one of Windhoek’s taxi ranks, Adams sentiments are also shared among other taxi drivers who are also walking around hawking for customers without wearing masks.

Mathew Shilongo said he will only start wearing a mask when he actually sees someone sick with the coronavirus while saying, “as long as his customers wear their masks,” then there is no need for him to put one on.

“It is very uncomfortable to spend the whole day wearing a mask. I start work as early as 5 a.m. and finish very late so it is just not possible to wear one,” Shilongo said.

Last week, the country reintroduced stricter COVID-19 measures following a surge in positive cases.

The stricter measures which are meant to suppress further spread of the virus will run for 14 days until Dec. 30.

“It is now evident that Namibia is experiencing a second wave of rising COVID-19 infections, President Geingob said.

“In fact, the number of COVID-19 related hospital admissions has sharply increased in different parts of the country. The number of COVID-19 and related deaths have also increased in recent weeks,” Geingob said.

In this short period of just 20 days, Namibia recorded 29 deaths and 4 811 infections bringing the total infections recorded to 19 299.

Under the newly introduced measures, the number of gatherings is reduced from the current limit of 200 to a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors, at a time.
Bars, nightclubs, casinos and all restaurants are to close for business at 22:00, Monday to Sunday.

Speaking to the media, Geingob warned he would put the country under lockdown for seven days if cases keep increasing.

He said lawmakers were considering locking down the entire country but are contemplating the economic impact it would have.

“I am warning you right not that if you do not change and do the right thing, I might be forced to declare a state of emergency,” Geingob said. Enditem

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