Namibia Suspends Food Imports From Zambia Due to Cholera Outbreak Fears

The Namibian government has imposed a provisional ban on the importation of all perishable food, fruits, unprocessed food and water from Zambia until further notice.

The ban came into effect on Monday, January 8, as a measure to contain the current wave of the cholera epidemic in Zambia.

Recently, one case was reported in Livingstone, about 200km from the Zambia-Namibia border. This case is believed to have played a part in the Namibian government banning the import of food from Zambia.

Many Namibians in the eastern Zambezi Region buy - and in some cases smuggle – mealie meal and fruits such as mangoes from Zambia.

Health officers from the Namibian ministry of health held an emergency meeting at the Wenela border post yesterday to inform border officials that no food items should be allowed into Namibia from Zambia.

Health officer Lempie Onesmus said health officials are on alert and have taken precautionary measures, including screening people entering Namibia from Zambia.

Onesmus however stressed that the ban on food imports is only a provisional measure until such time the situation in Zambia returns to normal.

She added that apart from the single case reported in Livingstone, no other case has been reported in areas close to Namibia.

Meanwhile, the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services is fully prepared for any possible spread of the cholera outbreak from Zambia, acting health permanent secretary Dr David Uirab said.

"We are very prepared for any possible outbreak in Namibia as we have sent our staff into different regions to educate and inform citizens about the disease, even though the epicentre of the outbreak is not close to the borders," Uirab said.

The Zambian government has decided to invoke statutory instrument number 79 to ban all public gatherings in affected places - such as church services, funeral gatherings and gatherings at bars, among others, in order to ensure that there are no further transmissions through contact.