As Malawi monitors the situation in Salima where 16 foreign nationals were found Covid-19 positive, health experts and the Society of Medical Doctors have urged government to prepare for eventualities.
The society’s president Victor Mithi said there is need for contract-tracing of the 16 to know their status.
The arrival of 40 technicians from India to work at Salima Sugar Factory happens at a time that country is registering overwhelming Covid-19 cases.
Mithi said the health system in Salima should also be empowered to handle cases if a breakout occurs.
He said: “As a nation, we should not relax. We know that some Covid-19 restrictions have been reduced.
“But the cases in Salima should open our eyes that we should expect anything.”
On his part, Physician Assistants Union of Malawi president Solomon Chomba urged government to make preparations in case of Covid-19 third wave.
He said this could be done through reestablishment of field hospitals.
“We should also train additional health workers on the mutated Covid-19 variant and provide adequate resources to the health sector,” said Chomba.
On the Salima incident, he said government should ensure a mass Covid-19 screening.
“We should also encourage those who did not get the vaccine to get the jab as a precautionary measure,” said Chomba.
Earlier, central hospital directors decried low investment in the country’s health system and expressed fear that Malawi cannot handle any new Covid-19 wave given the status quo.
Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) director Jonathan Ngoma said the situation remains dire because most of the needs in hospitals are yet to be met.
He said lack of adequate infrastructure and personnel as well as oxygen plants will make any new fight difficult.
Said Ngoma: “Covid-19 has exposed the under investment in the health sector.
“We do not have space. That is why we created a field facility at the stadium. At KCH, a veranda is turned into a ward. In 2021, we were not supposed to be hearing that people are donating oxygen cylinders. Hospitals were supposed to have them.”
Mzuzu Central Hospital director Frank Sinyiza also said the second wave saw health workers fail to attend to all patients.
“That [lack of staff] has impact on delivery of routine services because besides Covid-19, we need to manage other patients,” he said.
Minister of Health Khumbidze Chiponda, speaking during a Covid-19 update on Wednesday, said Salima District Health Office (DHO) Rapid Response Team is on the ground conducting investigations.
She said: “The team is at the factory conducting investigations, including further screening and tracing of contacts and ensuring that quarantine and isolation measures are adhered to.”
Meanwhile, vaccine statistics show that the country continues to register a downward trend on people getting vaccinated, with figures indicating a 57.5 percent decrease.
In epidemiological week 16, which spanned from April 19 to 25, about 19 335 vaccine doses were administered, down from 45 492 in week 15. Yet, during week 14, about 52 170 doses were administered.
As of Wednesday, the country has cumulatively recorded 34 052 cases including 1 147 deaths.