The Ministry of Health (MoH) has implemented precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus after the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday warned the virus could spread to other countries.
The ministry has implemented the measures after the viral infection killed 41 people and infected at least 575 others in China.
WHO said on www.who.int cases of the viral infection have been reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and the United States, raising fears that the virus could escalate into a global outbreak.
In reaction, MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango said government has strengthened health screening protocols at airports for people arriving from abroad, to prevent the spread of the infection in Malawi.
Malango said in a WhatsApp response: “The ministry is briefing its health workers on how to suspect and manage the disease and its hospitals are ready to manage patients suffering from the disease.
“People who recently travelled to affected countries are advised to report to their nearest health facility if they feel sick upon their return.”
He also said the ministry has developed leaflets providing important information on coronavirus, including prevention and control to sensitise the public on how to contain the virus in case of contagion.
The ministry has enhanced its health surveillance protocols after the WHO Emergency Committee on Friday urged countries to prepare for containment, “including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of the coronavirus”.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement posted on www.who.int: “We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures.
“All countries should have in place measures to detect cases of coronavirus, including at health facilities.”
The Emergency Committee did not declare the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, considering that China is “better-equipped to contain coronavirus than previous SARS outbreaks”.
The committee will reconvene next week to discuss whether to declare the outbreak a public health emergency. n