While Covid-19 cases are decreasing in some districts, Blantyre District continues to register the highest proportion of new cases followed by Lilongwe and Mzimba North health districts.
A Covid-19 weekly situation report by the Public Health Institute of Malawi (Phim) shows that as of February 7 2020, Blantyre had 8 944 cases, Lilongwe registered 5 956 cases, while Mzimba North had 1 585 cases.
Health authorities have since attributed the continued rise in cases to lack of strict adherence to preventive measures, lack of enforcement of measures, high population and congestion, especially in some modes of public transport like minibuses.
In an interview, Blantyre District’s director of health and social services Dr. Gift Kawalazira said congestion in cities and lack of adherence to preventive measures were the major concerns.
He said: “Take Blantyre, for example, with a population of 1.5 million people, 70 percent of whom live in the city and where we have more cases are high density areas like Chirimba, Mbayani, and Machinjiri. Their mode of transport is minibuses which are usually congested.
“We have tried to engage minibus owners, with the help of the presidential adviser on civil society organisations Martha Kwataine for them to understand. But they follow the rules during the day when traffic police are on the roads, but early in the morning, and evening, they resort to carrying many people which is dangerous.”
Kawalazira said passengers, just like the drivers and minibus owners, have the responsibility of ensuring that cases are reduced by following all preventive measures. He urged the general public to strictly follow the measures.
In Mzuzu, Mzimba North District health spokesperson Lovemore Kawayi stressed the need to intensify awareness and enforcement of the set guidelines of the pandemic. District health spokesperson
“The data shows that districts that have cities are the worst-hit, obviously because of congestion, but also failure to strictly follow the guidelines. So, people need to understand the need for prevention, but if they fail, then we have to enforce the rules.
“Many people are coming for testing on a daily basis, and many others are making phone calls even from rural areas that we should go and test them. We just hear that in some cases, those that get sick are afraid of coming to the hospital because of myths that once they go to hospitals, they will die. But many are coming, and are being helped,” he said.
Reads the report in part: “As of 7 February 2021, a total of 27 422 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 874 deaths, were reported in Malawi. Of the cases, 3057 were reported in the reporting period (Epi Week 5 of 2021). This represents a 30.2 percent decrease in the number of new cases reported compared to the number of new cases reported in Epi Week 4.
“In the past week, the Blantyre Health District reported the highest number of new cases [1 030 out of 3 057, representing 33.7 percent] followed by Lilongwe [851 out of 3 057, representing 27.8 percent], and Mzimba North [319 out of 3 057, representing 10.4 percent].”
According to the report, cumulatively, 1 395 cases had been admitted since April 2
2020 when the first cases were registered in the country. had been admitted since April 2
By that date, the country had registered a cumulative 27 422 cases, meaning the three districts had about 60.1 percent of all cases in the country.
In terms of deaths, the three districts had cumulatively recorded 592 deaths out of 874 for the whole country by February 7, meaning they had recorded about 67 percent of total deaths in the country.
The World Health Organisation, in its weekly update on February 7, placed Malawi among countries registering more deaths due to Covid-19.
“The countries reporting the highest number of new deaths in the past week were South Africa [2 229 new deaths; 3.8 new deaths per 100 000; a 34 percent decrease], Malawi [150 new deaths; 0.8 new deaths per 100 000; a 31 percent decrease] and Zimbabwe [123 new deaths; 0.8 new deaths per 100 000; a 44 percent decrease],” it read.
In a daily update on Tuesday, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka urged people to continue to properly wear masks in all public places.
“It is important to note what type of masks to use to effectively protect ourselves and others from the virus. Those that are Covid-19 -positive must self-isolate and put on a medical mask always,” he said.
Meanwhile, government has rolled out a 21-day Covid-19 awareness campaign to educate the masses, dispel misconceptions and help people appreciate the impending vaccination against the pandemic.
The campaign, which started on February 6 to February 27 2021, is being managed by the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, in collaboration with ministries of Health and Information.
By Tuesday, Malawi had recorded 27 722 cases, including 883 deaths, representing a case fatality rate of 3.2 percent. Of these cases, 2 003 are imported infections and 25 719 are locally transmitted.