Malawi has registered 351 of the 540 coronavirus-related deaths in January 2021 compared to 189 deaths recorded between April and December last year, an analysis of the Covid-19 deaths has shown.
The 351 deaths recorded as of yesterday, represent 174 percent increase in deaths from the cumulative nine months.
On a monthly basis, it means that in 2020 the country was losing 21 people every month while the yet-to-be-concluded January has already surpassed that mark by over 1 566 percent.
Cumulatively, by Monday Malawi had recorded 20 830 cases, including 540 deaths, representing a Case Fatality Rate of 2.6 percent.
By December 31 2020, Malawi had cumulatively recorded 6 583 cases, translating to at least 731 cases each month for nine months, while January alone has now recorded 13 404 cases, translating to an average of 536 cases each day for 25 days.
Presenting a daily update on the pandemic on Monday, Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 co-chairperson John Phuka decried that mass gatherings that include markets, public transport, workplaces, bars, family gatherings, churches and funeral ceremonies are acting as super spreaders of the disease.
He said: “I should point it out that the more people interact, the closer in distance the interaction is [less than one metre], and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk of spreading Covid-19.
“As we are experiencing community transmission in various areas the risk of Covid-19 rapidly spreading is very high. We have observed that in some situations, many people have become sick with Covid-19 after attending a funeral service.”
Regardless of whether the funeral is Covid-19-related, Phuka stressed that precautions should be taken into consideration to help prevent the spread of the pandemic. He urged church leaders and chiefs to help.
Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga and Chitipa said while they are massively sensitising their people to control numbers at gatherings, it was difficult for many to understand, especially those in rural areas.
He said: “It’s a process that will take some months and even years, if at all this pandemic will still be there. People think if you don’t congregate at a funeral, it means you are not a part of that society, but we are saying, this virus is very brutal, and we need to change.”
Kyungu hailed the cooperation between chiefs and the district commissioner’s office, saying they constantly engage.
Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri urged religious leaders to devise new ways of reaching out to people with the Gospel, as one way of following measures in dealing with the pandemic.
He said restricting the number of congregants to 50, as ordered by government, is a decisive idea as it is about saving the lives of people that religious groups need to reach out to.
Said Bushiri: “Whether it is sports, church or market, where life is involved, I think we have to be very serious in terms of life’s precautionary measures.
“For me, as men of God, time has come when we must find other ways of reaching out to the community. It’s not an issue of gathering, but of passing the message we preach to the community.”
In its pastoral statement on Tuesday, the Episcopal Conference of
Malawi (ECM) urged those affected by the pandemic not to hide their status so that those around them are protected by following precautionary measures.
Government has released K17.52 billion for urgent use in responding to the new wave of infections and hospitalisations.
By yesterday, the country had recorded 12 075 active cases from 132 915 cumulative tests with 2 562 new tests that yielded 843 new cases and 22 deaths. There were 225 recoveries yesterday, according to the Task Force.