Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) health workers who were assigned to bury a coronavirus (Covid-19) victim were on Sunday attacked by an angry mob in Ndirande Township in Blantyre who demanded evidence that the deceased died of the virus.
In an interview yesterday, Blantyre DHO director of health and social services Dr. Gift Kawalazira confirmed the incident, saying it involved 11 health workers and an ambulance driver.
He described it as “a double threat to health workers’ lives” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Said Kawalazira: “This is a very sad development which puts lives of our staff in danger.
“We are compiling a report to the Ministry of Health where among others, we will ask them that we should only be disinfecting the dead body and not be involved in the burial.”
The angry community members were mostly from around Malabada Cemetery in the township and they demanded evidence from health workers that the deceased died of coronavirus.
According to a witness Chikaiko Chikwanje, the health workers who had no police escort, failed to provide any evidence, prompting the community members to start beating them up after the burial.
Asked why health workers went
to bury the body without police escort, Kawalazira said previously, burial ceremonies of Covid-19 victims were paceful.
Efforts to speak to Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, Principal Secretary Dan Namarika and the ministry’s spokesperson Joshua Malango proved futile as their phones went unanswered on several attempts.
According to Kawalazira, the deceased was referred to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre on Saturday evening around 6pm before being referred to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital because the patient needed to be on oxygen ventilators which the public hospital did not have.
While at Mwaiwathu, healthcare workers collected samples of the man, 72, from Goliati in Thyolo and he tested positive for coronavirus. He was taken to Kameza Quarantine Centre at around 9pm where he died an hour later.