The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has temporarily closed the Bingu National Stadium field hospital following a reduction in admission cases in the country’s referral hospitals.
In a Covid-19 update on Monday, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda said the 300-bed capacity facility will remain intact in case of any rise in Covid-19 cases.
She said: “I would like to inform the nation that currently, we do not have any patients at the Bingu Stadium Field Hospital. Due to reduced number of admissions, those that need admissions are being attended to at Kamuzu Central Hospital treatment centre [formerly skin clinic].”
But the task force co-chairperson Dr Wilfred Chalamila-Nkhoma in an interview yesterday could not clearly state whether the closure will extend to other field hospitals.
“The decision to temporarily close the Bingu National Stadium was done by the task force under the Ministry of Health [MoH] but the format remains the same. The decision has been solely based on the decreasing numbers of admissions,” he said.
Chalamila-Nkhoma further said health workers who were stationed at the facility have since returned to KCH.
The facility was among four field hospitals that President Lazarus Chakwera on January 17 this year said his administration would set up to handle the surge in Covid-19 cases.
The others are 300-bed Blantyre Youth Centre, 200-bed emergency treatment unit in Mzuzu and a 100-bed field hospital at the Zomba State Lodge.
Closure of the facility also comes at a time when other countries on the continent have started reporting third wave of the pandemic, with Kenya making an announcement last Friday.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba has since called for vigilance, especially with reports of a third wave.
In an interview yesterday, he said with the closure of Bingu Field Hospital, government should ensure that health facilities are capacitated to handle Covid-19 cases once they occur.
Said Matemba: “In fact, it was our call that we should build permanent structures that can handle the disease.”
Meanwhile, the country has started rolling out the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccine, which is targeting 11 million people in the country representing 60 percent of the population, has commenced with the first group to get the vaccine comprising health workers, police, immigration, Malawi Defence Force, teachers, prison warders, those above 60 years and people with underlying conditions.
Asked when the second batch of doses will arrive and when the rest of the population will get immunised, MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango, asked for more time before commenting.
University of Malawi’s College of Medicine professor in epidemiology Adamson Muula, yesterday warned against vaccine fraud among health care workers.
He said healthcare workers must exercise due diligence and probity to ensure only those eligible receive the vaccine.
Malawi reported its first Covid-19 case on April 2 2020, barely a fortnight after the WHO had declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.
By December 31 2020, Covid-19 had claimed 189 lives in Malawi, but now accounts for five million deaths globally.