The Ministry of Health and Population yesterday said there are 4 500 people on self-quarantine nationwide for coronavirus (Covid-19).
But the ministry—at a meeting presided over by Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani—admitted facing challenges tracking suspected patients, a hiccup it said could put more people at risk.
Dr. Andrew Likaka, the ministry’s director of quality management and digital health, said this in an interview in Blantyre on the sidelines of a meeting with media managers and telecommunications operators on Covid-19 initiatives.
He said the 4 500 was as of yesterday.
Likaka said: “We have noted that some people are giving us fake contact numbers and false addresses, among others.
“It is, therefore, becoming difficult for health workers to make follow ups, mainly on those that are in self-isolation. Tracking them is actually a nightmare. It is something we cannot afford to be doing now.”
In his address to the high-level meeting government had with media and telecommunications managers at Sunbird Mount Soche, Likaka also questioned people’s motives behind spreading fake news about Covid-19 and warned that this can potentially cause more damage than the pandemic itself.
He said: “Do we even understand how deadly the pandemic is? I tell you there are countries out there who wish they were us and yet we are busy wishing if we could swap places with them; strange, huh?”
The meeting, called by the Ministry of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology in conjunction with Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), sought to solicit views from the managers on how their entities can complement government efforts in responding to the pandemic.
On his part, Botomani asked media houses to exercise caution in reporting stories around the coronavirus.
He said government was willing to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to avert the pandemic from hitting the country.
Globally, over 956 000 have been diagnosed with the virus, and some 202 000 have recovered.
Nearly 48 000 people have died from the disease, which was first discovered in China late last year.