Malawi has recorded five new cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, pushing the number to 63 since the country recorded the first three cases on April 2 this year.
The rise in cases has coincided with an offer from some well-wishers set to supply 19 million face masks to all Malawians under a project branded Masks for All.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who made the announcement in Lilongwe on Wednesday, said all the new cases are not critical.
He said one case was confirmed at National Reference Laboratory at Public Health Institute of Malawi (Phim) in Lilongwe, another at College of Medicine Laboratory in Blantyre and three at Mzuzu Central Hospital Laboratory.
Mhango said three of the cases are imported. They are from Nkhata Bay and all have a travel history to Tanzania.
He said two of the three imported cases arrived in Malawi on May 8 this year while the other arrived on May 11.
On the other hand, the case confirmed in Lilongwe is a 53-year-old female and a contact of the case from Chilinde in Lilongwe while the one confirmed in Blantyre is a 29-year-old woman from Thyolo. The minister said the 29-year-old is a contact of a confirmed case in Thyolo.
Mhango said: “Health workers are tracing all the contacts of this case so that they can also be tested for the virus. With these cases, the country has now registered a total of 63 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Of these, 24 have successfully recovered, three lost their lives and 36 are still under management by the health system.”
He said the 36 active cases are all clinically stable.
Lilongwe has the highest number at 26 with two deaths followed by Blantyre with 16 cases and one death while Thyolo is third with nine cases. Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay have three cases each while Zomba, Karonga, Nkhotakota, Chikwawa, Mangochi and Mulanje have recorded one case each.
In a related development, a group of volunteers has committed to supply 19 million masks to all Malawians for free.
The group, operating under the organisation Masks4All, announced on Wednesday in Lilongwe that production of over 19 million masks, with financial resources mobilised around the globe, has already started.
Production coordinator Ronald Ngwira said about 4.4 million masks are ready for distribution.
He said: “There are various forms of distribution we shall use. They will be distributed through health centres and through political leaders. So far there are 4.4 million masks produced.”
Medical virologist Gama Bandawe, who is also an adviser to the grouping, said the masks to be distributed are effective in fighting against spread of the virus from one person to another. But he advised that surgical masks should be reserved for those who are at the frontline in fighting the virus.
In an interview, Parliamentary Committee on Health chairperson Mathews Ngwale commended volunteers for committing to donate the masks saying that will be good for all people in the country.