The 61-year-old Malawian woman of Asian origin who tested positive to coronavirus (Covid-19) after she recently travelled from India, came into the country by road and not airplane as earlier indicated, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
President Peter Mutharika announced on Thursday that three people who are the woman, her 11-year-old relation and a 64-year-old maid tested positive to coronavirus.
A family member has since clarified that the 64-year-old is a wife to the affected family’s housekeeper.
But Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson Joshua Malango, in an interview yesterday, did not want to disclose whether the 61-year-old woman travelled by bus or on a different type of vehicle, nor the exact date she arrived in Malawi.
Said Malango: “She did not fly into the country. Contact tracings started on Thursday. That is how the other two were also identified. We are now moving to the next layer of contacts.”
But Malango did not give details about how the tracing is being done.
But an inside source said the woman entered Malawi through Zambia- Mchinji border. A relation from Lilongwe drove to the border where he picked her.
In his address to the nation Thursday evening, Mutharika said the woman was on self-quarantine for 14 days, after her arrival, before she developed some symptoms.
In a telephone interview yesterday Malawi Equity Health Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe urged government to make available the finer details about the patients to avoid causing public panic.
He said, for instance, it is important to know whether the patients used a bus or a different type of vehicle, and who else travelled with them.
Said Jobe: “Such details are important for the purpose of reducing the spread of the disease. Which other people were living with these people in their compound and when exactly did the woman arrive in Malawi?”
In an earlier interview, MoH chief of health services Charles Mwansambo indicated that the three patients might be moved to isolation treatment centres depending on results of a medical review which was scheduled for last night.
Mwansambo said the ministry was establishing two isolation centres—one at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and another at Bwaila Hospital at the Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC).
But some doctors from Bwaila Hospital, who spoke to Weekend Nation on strict condition of anonymity, expressed reservations with the decision to use the VMCC building as an isolation centre, arguing that it is in the middle of Old Town as well as at the centre of the hospital.
Commenting on how the ministry is using the K15 billion allocation to combat Covid-19, Malango could not give a breakdown of what the money has been used for but said not all of it has been released.
He said so far most of the procurements are being done by the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) and some local and international organisations.
Malango also said all districts have set up quarantine and treatment facilities. As of yesterday, 56 554 people had died of coronavirus globally from the 1 061 291 confirmed cases.