The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has announced 52 more coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the country that occurred in the past 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed cases to 336.
Task force co-chairperson Dr John Phuka said during a press briefing in Lilongwe on Monday that the new cases involve Malawians who were returning from South Africa and truck drivers.
He said: “Of the cases, 42 were identified among Malawians who returned home from South Africa through Mwanza, nine truck drivers and one Dedza person who has a history of travelling, he returned from South Africa on 11th of May.”
Since May 23 when Malawians repatriated from South Africa started arriving in the country, the number of imported transmissions has grown to 280 compared to 48 local transmissions.
Phuka said there is need to review some policies before launching mandatory institutional quarantine for those that enter the country from coronavirus hotspot countries, who are currently being put under self-isolation.
“We have considered institutional quarantine which is controlled by the State, but at the moment an analysis for policy change for institutional quarantine is being carried out because there are things to consider first such as capacity to isolate in single rooms which needs to be well thought out. We only have a capacity for 400, but the past week we have had over 1 000 people entering the country. So we have to look at that as well,” he said.
Asked whether government is ready for mass testing, Phuka said at present they are only working with communities to come on their own for tests and also use toll-free lines to report symptoms.
He said the only mandatory testing done where they have graduated from temperature checks to full testing now is at the points of entry.
“We have enhanced the corona assessments we have upstaged the test, we used to test only temperatures, but now we are testing all Malawians coming through our boarders,” said Phuka.
Meanwhile, the committee has cleared Kaliyeka Township in Lilongwe which turned into a hotspot last month after 10 cases were reported in a day, including a death.
According to the Ministry of Health’s chief of health services Dr Charles Mwansambo, all the cases that have been reported are being followed up as government has all the details of the people that have entered the country.
“The people are spread across the country. We have contacted the district hospitals to follow up with the people. So people should not get worried, the entire contact tracing is being done,” he said.
To date, the disease has claimed four lives with 42 recoveries from 5 148 people tested.
On December 31 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was alerted to several cases of coronavirus in China’s Wuhan City, and on March 12 2020, declared the virus a pandemic.
On March 20, President Peter Mutharika declared coronavirus a national disaster in Malawi and on April 2, the country registered its first three cases.