Malawi has surpassed her neighbours in terms of the number of coronavirus cases and is ranked fourth after South Africa in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region, statistics show.
With 1 818 cases and 19 deaths as of Monday evening, Malawi is ranked above Zambia which had 1632 cases and 30 deaths, Mozambique with 987 cases and six deaths and Zimbabwe at 716 cases and eight deaths. Tanzania, on the other hand, has 509 cases.
Regionally, Malawi is trailing South Africa with196 750 cases and 3 199 deaths, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with 7 411 cases and 182 deaths and Madagascar with 2 941 cases and 32 deaths. Seychelles is the least affected in the Sadc region with 81 cases.
In recent weeks, Malawi has been recording rising cases of Covid-19 with 110 new cases on June 20, 115 cases on June 28 then 115 on July 4 and 129 on July 5—the highest in a single day since the first three cases were reported on April 2.
In a Covid-19 status update on Sunday night, Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka said the 129 cases were then highest and worst in Malawi.
He said: “Let me highlight that Malawi has registered the highest number of new cases in 24 hours. This calls upon everyone to take Covid-19 seriously.
“Therefore, let me join His Excellency State President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera in calling upon each one of us to join the fight against Covid-19 to ensure that we protect each other and our loved ones.”
By June 1 2020, Malawi had 336 cases, including four deaths, but in 35 days to July 5 the country recorded 15 deaths and 1406 cases, averaging one death every 2.3 days and 40 cases daily.
While the rise in cases is attributed to failure to control crowds during the recent campaign and returnees mostly from South Africa, there have been calls for individuals and communities to recommend preventive measures, including social distancing and washing hands with soap.
In an e-mail response to a questionnaire, World Malawi country representative Nonhlanhla Rosemary Dlamini said the surge in local transmission should push everyone to take part.Health Organisation (WHO)
She said healthcare workers should be supported with personal protective equipment and continuous training on Covid-19 preventive measures both for themselves and for the patients they attend to.
Said Dhlamini: “The immediate steps are that everyone should take a role. The doubling in local transmission is a call for everyone to take part.
“This new challenge that government and partners did not envisage, saw a large number of returnees in a short period of time.”
Reacting to the situation, Mzuzu City Council spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said the council issued restrictions on social places to mitigate the spread, but admitted that due to the political election, most people relaxed and politicised the interventions. He said this frustrated implementation.
Blantyre City Council spokesperson Anthony Kasunda also lamented that enforcement of measures was affected by the election, but said their health department continues to conduct awareness campaigns .
In a separate interview, epidemiologist Dr Titus Divala urged councils to ensure availability of all necessary enablers for the prevention measures to be followed.
On Sunday, Chakwera urged the citizenry to strengthen measures of hygiene as individuals, at home and place of work.