Namibia’s oxygen supplies exhausted – minister

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Namibia’s reserves of medical oxygen have been “exhausted” as the country experiences record numbers of daily deaths from coronavirus, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula has told the BBC.

In severe cases, the virus damage the lungs, causing the body’s oxygen levels to drop and making it harder to breathe.

This week Mr Shangula’s ministry announced 45 deaths from the virus on Wednesday and then 55 on Thursday. With a population of just 2.5 million, this currently represents the highest death rate on the continent.

The country has also recorded high numbers of new cases.

Local media have been reporting that hospitals have been struggling to cope and the minister confirmed that resources were stretched.

“Oxygen delivery to the patient is not at a satisfactory level,” Mr Shangula told BBC Focus on Africa.

He said all local manufacturers of purified oxygen had been roped in and the country was now importing the gas from neighbouring South Africa.

New measures, including a lockdown in the capital, Windhoek, have been introduced to contain the spread of the virus.

When it comes to vaccination, the health minister said that along with battling some vaccine hesitancy, which he blamed on misleading information being shared on social media, the country was having problems getting hold of the jabs.

Just over 5% of the population has so far received at least one dose.

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