Amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country, government says it has enough test kits in stock and is continuing with the standard procedure of testing only travellers, those who show symptoms of the disease and close contacts to positive cases.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary (PS) Charles Mwansambo in an interview on Monday said although the country has adequate test kits, it will continue with the current protocol of testing.
He said: “You can test negative today and test positive tomorrow. So it doesn’t help to know your status.”
According to Mwansambo, as at January 10 2021, the ministry had a total of 159 163 test kits in its warehouses across the country, with Covid-19 tests being conducted in all 28 districts.
According to information sourced from Ministry of Health Covid-19 National Information Dashboard, the ministry has conducted 98 864 tests since Covid-19 was registered in Malawi in April 2020. Of those tests, 9 400 have come out positive, 3 084 are active cases, 5 826 recovered while 254 have died, according to Ministry of Health statistics released on Tuesday.
On the increasing Covid-19 cases, the PS said the country is now suffering the consequences of ignoring Covid-19 preventive measures.
He said although no country in the world is prepared enough, government saw the spike coming and it was unfortunate that a group of concerned musicians obtained an injunction against government’s proposed lockdown last year, throwing all preventive measures out of the window.
“We are now suffering the consequences. We saw this coming and that is why the Minister of Health gazetted the amendments to the rules and regulations to limit gatherings. This we did so as not to overwhelm our health system,” said Mwansambo.
In a separate interview, public health and epidemiology expert Adamson Muula said the country also has to be cost-effective and test only those that are travelling, close contacts of positive cases and those showing symptoms.
Meanwhile, health activist Maziko Matemba has called for a need to assess if the current Covid-19 response plan is helping the country in curbing the virus.
He said in an interview that if something is not done, the health system will be overwhelmed with admissions of Covid-19 patients.
Said Matemba: “Do we need to change some things in the plan? It is good that even President Lazarus Chakwera has acknowledged our weaknesses, now what do we do next?”
Matemba said there is need to have isolation centres in the country’s border posts to deal with imported cases and improve on contact tracing. Currently, 134 people that were tested have been lost to follow-up, according to Ministry of Health daily Covid-19 updates.
The virus that causes Covid-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales, according to the World Health Organisation.
People with Covid-19 show a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. The symptoms may appear between two and 14 days, according to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
CDC cites Covid-19 symptoms as including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea.