Malawi yesterday became the latest country to record positive cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) with three victims.
President Peter Mutharika, who announced the news last night, appealed for calm in the fight against the virus.
In a brief address monitored on State broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) last-evening, the President said the patients were a 61-year-old Malawian who had travelled to India, her relation and a housemaid. The three are residents of Lilongwe.
“The second case is a relative to the index patient while the third case is the domestic worker in their household,” said Mutharika in the address that lasted one minute and 23 seconds.
Hitherto, Malawi was among less than 10 African countries without a Covid-19 positive case.
The President said the nation should not panic following the three cases and reminded all Malawians that coronavirus, which has so far killed 50 000 people globally since it was first diagnosed in the Chinese City of Wuhan last December, is preventable if people observe the social distance of not less than one metre apart, proper hand washing with soap for not less than 20 seconds and avoiding coughing or sneezing into one’s palms.
He said the first patient was in self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Malawi, but later became symptomatic.
Mutharika said all the close contacts of the patients would be traced and put on 14-day quarantine.
In an interview last evening, Ministry of Health (MoH) chief of health services Dr. Charles Mwansambo said the 61-year-old was the first case with her relation as the second case and the domestic worker the third case for Malawi.
He said the three were scheduled to undergo a medical review at their home last night and would move to isolated treatment centres depending on the results of the review.
Mwansambo said MoH is in the process of establishing two isolation centres—one at Kamuzu Central Hospital at the skin clinic and another one at Bwaila Hospital’s medical male circumcision centre.
He said: “Of course, we already have a prepared place at KCH, but in addition to these we will establish the two treatment centres. We begin small, but surely we will expand depending on the situation.”
Mwansambo said the maid is aged 64 and the index patient’s relation is 11. He said the other two were identified in the process of tracking down the index patient.
But he said none of the three, whose identities he could not disclose, needed intensive care.
On whether Malawi has adequate equipment to tame the outbreak, Mwansambo said: “There is never enough equipment, but at least we prepared ourselves in the last three weeks for this day.”
In a separate interview, MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango said the ministry was planning to transfer the three cases to Bwaila Hospital.
Malawi’s confirmed cases have left Lesotho and Comoros as the only Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries without Covid-19 cases.
South Africa has 1 462 cases, Mauritius 169, Democratic Republic of Congo 123, Madagascar 59, Zambia 39, Tanzania 20, Namibia 14, Mozambique and Seychelles 10 each, E-swatini (formerly Swaziland) nine, Angola and Zimbabwe eight each and Botswana four.