Malawi yesterday recorded the first death from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with government stating that Ministry of Health recommended procedures should be followed during burial.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who chairs the Special Cabinet Task Committee on Covid-19, also announced at a news conference in Lilongwe yesterday that three more positive cases were confirmed, bringing the number of cases in the country to eight since last Thursday.
The minister identified a 51-year-old Blantyre woman as the first person to die from Covid-19, one week after she tested positive following her trip to the United Kingdom.
Mhango said: “I regret to inform the nation that the 51-year-old Malawian lady of Indian origin who had just recently returned from UK and was our fifth patient to test positive from Covid-19 has sadly passed on in the early hours of this morning.
“Burial will be at any cemetery, but it will be done following health procedures, so there is no special place that government has designated for the burials.”
Of the three new cases announced yesterday, one is in Chikwawa and two in Blantyre.
The minister said: “One case in Blantyre is a 34-year-old lady family contact of the first case that was registered on 3 April 2020. The second case is a 28-year-old lady who travelled from London, UK on 19 March 2020. The person confirmed in Chikwawa is a 30-year-old gentleman who travelled from South Africa on 16 March 2020.”
To date, Malawi has tested 126 people and 118 have come out negative. There are 14 samples awaiting tests.
As a precautionary measure, the committee announced the cancellation of voter registration for the forthcoming fresh presidential elections, church gatherings and mobile markets.
The committee has also asked people to report to police anyone getting into Malawi and is not observing the 14-day self-quarantine requirement.
Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi said police will intensify patrols to ensure that people stay at home.
Meanwhile, Human Resources for Health Coalition, while commending government and the Cabinet committee for the work it is doing, has dared authorities to put the measures into practice.
The coalition’s chairperson Shout Simeza said there is need for government to consider the welfare of health workers in Malawi who are now on a suicide mission in the fight against Covid-19.
He also said the presidential directive to recruit 2 000 health workers should be implemented as soon as possible.
Simeza also asked government to increase the health workers’ risk allowance from K1 800 per month to 70 percent of the health worker’s salary.
Currently all district councils have been provided with K1.1 billion funding from the K2.4 billion that Treasury released after the President directed that K15 billion be utilised for the fight.
Lilongwe DHO has traced over 60 people who could have been either in direct or indirect contact with the 61-year-old woman first diagnosed with Covid-19 after travelling to India.
The 60 also included students at Bishop Mackenzie International High School where the first case’s 11-year-old grandson learns. Yesterday, 43 learners at the school were tested for Covid-19.
Covid-19 has rapidly spread from China to European countries and the United States of America, and recently it has been reported in 46 African countries, Malawi inclusive where eight confirmed cases have been reported.