Hepatitis-E slows down

Corona has positive spinoff

23 November 2020 | Health

Windhoek • [email protected]

No new hepatitis-E fatalities have been reported in Namibia since 3 March, when the death toll stood at 65.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a significant increase in handwashing and improved sanitation facilities in Namibia’s informal settlements, where hepatitis has been rife since late 2017.
The latest situation report shows that 7 983 cases have been reported since December 2017, of which 2 084 were laboratory confirmed.
The disease remains concentrated in Windhoek’s informal settlements, accounting for 4 933 (62%) of cases, followed by 1 690 infections in the Erongo region. There, the majority of new cases are reported from the Kuisebmond suburb of Walvis Bay.
The latest situation update from the health ministry gives an overview of the outbreak between 5 and 18 October 2020. The report is a month behind due to Covid-19.
“Surveillance teams at all levels are overwhelmed, and therefore the data being reported is four weeks behind,” the ministry said.
Efforts are being made to bring the data up to date again, an official said.
After the arrival of the pandemic in Namibia in March, a heightened focus on improving sanitation in informal settlements has boosted not only Covid-19 protection, but also curbed the spread of hepatitis-E.
“Even though efforts are diverted mainly to Covid-19 pandemic response, there is a beneficial spill-over from the sanitation and hygiene practices of the Covid-19 interventions for the hepatitis-E outbreak control,” the health ministry writes in the latest report.
Between mid-December 2019 and 19 April this year, 668 new hepatitis-E infections were reported.
In the six months between April and 18 October, only 341 new hepatitis-E infections were reported.
The health ministry’s situation update confirmed that by mid-October, a general downward trend in the number of hepatitis-E infections had been noted.
Nevertheless, the report underlined that there is still a need to improve water and sanitation across Namibia.

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