Scary! Health workers at Karonga District Hospital had a rude awakening when a 27-year-old novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic patient on Saturday escaped from his isolation room at the hospital, beating the security systems.
Information sourced shows that the escapee then travelled to Mpata within the district before proceeding to his home of origin at Kachere near Chintheche in Nkhata Bay.
Besides exposing the security lapse at the facility, health workers have said the escape is worrisome because the patient may likely have used public transport when he travelled to Mpata then from Karonga through Mzuzu City to Nkhata Bay.
Eye witnesses in Nkhata Bay said the patient was in contact with many people who used the same public transport and that he visited drinking joints at Chintheche in Nkhata Bay.
Hospital authorities in Karonga and Nkhata Bay admitted on Tuesday they were in a dilemma regarding the tracing of the patient’s contacts.
In an interview, Karonga District director of health and social services David Sibale lamented the security lapse, but stated that even while at the hospital, the person was getting calls from people from Mpata, some of whom allegedly threatened his life.
He said: “After escaping on Saturday, he went to Chilambiro, but when we followed up twice, and even on the second occasion when we went with police, the community was uncooperative. They lied to us that he had gone back to Tanzania. But now we have information that he is in Nkhata Bay which is his home of origin.”
Sibale said they are puzzled with the patient’s escaped from the isolation place because there is no sign that he broke doors or windows.
Nkhata Bay District Hospital spokesperson Christopher Singini confirmed that the young man is under their care, but at home, because “he has proved to be difficult”.
He said the man was spotted at a bar in Chintheche on Monday from where he was taken to his home village.
Singini said they have taken him to his village because they believe the community can easily manage him.
He said: “The community has been told the dangers of Covid-19, so we are sure they have warned him on what will happen if he chooses to leave the home. Our job now is contact tracing. We have to find all those he came into contact with, even at bars.”
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe has condemned the patient’s behaviour, stating, people need to understand that they are put in isolation or quarantine for their own good and also for the society at large.
“This patient is reckless, and I wish there was a way to punish him. He deserves a prison sentence,” he said.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who on Tuesday expressed surprise with the escape, said in an interview the gazetted rules on Covid-19 management stipulate punishments for such people. He said security agents will deal with the matter.
“I am still grappling with the puzzle on how he escaped. I have since instituted investigations to find out what exactly happened for the patient to escape,” he said in Mzuzu on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Mhango on Tuesday reported that the country has registered one more case of Covid-19, a 73-year-old man based in Chilinde Township in Lilongwe, taking the confirmed cases to 58.
Since April 2 when President Peter Mutharika announced the first three cases, Malawi has recorded 58 cases, including three deaths.