Barely weeks after reopening its schools, Namibia has opted to close them again for 28 days due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The country’s President, Hage Geingob, made the announcement on Friday and said schools would close from Tuesday 4 August.

This will apply to all grades, except learners in the final three years of high school.

Parents and teachers threatened mass action

This comes after parents, teachers and students threatened to embark on countrywide mass demonstrations if schools were not closed, the Namibian Sun newspaper reported on Thursday.

The publication said the Teachers Union of Namibia had confirmed demonstrations would take place at the education ministry headquarters and government office park in Windhoek, and at regional offices in all 14 regions unless closure was announced on Friday.

“After lengthy and exhaustive discussions and thorough scrutiny of the advisability, or otherwise, of reopening or resuming face-to-face teaching against the background of the now ever-increasing incidents of coronavirus infections, it was unanimously decided that it was inadvisable to resume face-to- face teaching and learning,” said the union.

Namibia has a high rate of daily new cases

Reuters news agency quotes the Namibian president as saying the country has 2 129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths, with the rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent after South Africa, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Gabon.

Among the other new measures announced by the president is a reduction in the number people who may attend a public gathering. This has been reduced from 250 people to 100.

Public venues may also not serve alcohol, but it can be consumed in the home.

New rules on foreign tourists to assist industry

However, there is a relaxation of the rules governing foreign tourists and the mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival has been scrapped.

Instead, new arrivals must present a negative result from a test conducted 72 hours before arrival.  

They must then stay at their first location for a week and be retested. If the result is negative, they can proceed with the rest of their holiday.

The aim, the president said, is to assist the tourism industry while still safeguarding public health.

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Presh JM Reporter

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