Malawi’s Covid-19 case fatality rate has hit an average of 3 percent, which is higher than the global rate of 2.2 percent.
In his Covid-19 update on Saturday, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka said cumulatively, Malawi had recorded 26 875 cases, including 837 deaths, representing a case fatality rate of 3.1 percent.
While the global rate remains 2.2 percent, that of Africa is at 2.6 percent, raising concerns from authorities and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says the number of deaths is troubling.
Phuka said the number of deaths can be reduced if people seek early medical care.
He said: “Our data shows that recoveries have surpassed the 11 000 mark and this is giving hope to the Covid-19 fight. Sadly, today the number of people that we have lost to Covid-19 has surpassed the 800 mark.
“As we have been communicating, we can reduce [deaths] if people seek medical care as early as possible. We need to help patients to visit the hospital in good time so that care starts early enough to save lives.”
Phuka stressed the need to interrupt the transmission cycle by strictly adhering to Covid-19 preventive and containment measures.
“During the second wave, we have detected the mutated strain of the virus, the same that is being reported in other countries, and that is spreading faster than the primary variant.
“Together with poor adherence to preventive measures, this has resulted in the widespread of the disease. It is important to note that although we have the mutated virus, the preventive and containment measures remain the same,” he said.
In an interview, Society of Medical Doctors president Dr Victor Mithi said the current situation should make authorities see the need to start bringing in desired changes in the health sector.
He said: “People are dying because of a number of factors, and one of them is lack of resources and human capital. As we see more cases, we see that resources are constrained, the health system and healthcare workers are overstretched and as a result, the quality of care offered to patients is sub-optimal.
“This is not because the care workers are not competent, but because they don’t have enough materials and hands to help. This is contributing to these numbers.”
Mithi urged people to continue following Covid-19 prevention measures and present to hospitals early when they suspect they are infected.
On his part, National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives president Shouts Simeza said while the new strain of the virus is more fatal, there is no strict enforcement of preventive measures.
“We need people to follow the rules without expecting the police to pounce on them. We need collective effort. Chiefs, legislators, religious leaders, everybody must understand the situation we are in, and help to enforce containment measures,” he said.
Meanwhile, health rights activist Maziko Matemba has said the rising cases of death call for the need to expedite processes on vaccination.
He said: “We are trying to stop the pandemic, but it seems things are difficult because we continue registering more cases. Is our response good enough or we need to come up alternative the measures?
“We also need to look at how we are managing cases in isolation centres, and see if we can do something to change where necessary. Vaccination will be more efficient because we’re not on full lockdown.”
In a weekly update on the pandemic last Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong described Africa’s case fatality rate as troubling.
He said: “I would like us to continue to put faces to these numbers and to remember that these are individuals. It will be a tragedy if we normalise these deaths. We need to redouble our efforts so that no one dies from Covid-19.”
The update indicated that in Africa, 93 000 people have died, representing a case fatality rate of 2.6 percent.
According to Africa CDC, 86 percent of member States continue to report community transmission and more countries continue to register a higher case fatality rate than the global rate.
Besides Malawi, other countries that have registered higher than the global case fatality rate are Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan, Egypt, Liberia, Mali, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Comoros, Niger, Chad, Tunisia, Gambia, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Algeria, Mauritania, Angola and Senegal.