A total of 478 Malawians, who were living in South Africa, have arrived in the country, once again raising fear of a possible upsurge in Covid-19 cases in Malawi.
South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Southern Africa.
Malawi which only recorded confirmed cases by April 2, has overtaken neighbouring countries that were ahead of it some three months ago.
South Africa has over 200 000 confirmed cases with over 3 700 deaths. Zambia has about 1 800, Tanzania slightly above 500 and Mozambique has about 1 000 yet Malawi has over 2 000.
The returnees, according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), are accommodated at Nalikule College of Education and Machinga Teachers’ Training Colleges and have all been tested and are awaiting results.
“Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 2069 cases, including 31 deaths. Of these cases, 722 are imported infections and 1347 are locally transmitted. Cumulatively, 379 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 1 659.
“The average age of the cases is 34 years, the youngest case is aged 1 month, the oldest is 82 years and 67 are male. So far, the country has conducted 19 296 Covid-19 tests in 39 Covid-19 test centres,” reads a statement from the presidential task force released on Friday, signed by co-chairperson Dr John Phuka.
Twenty-four hours later the country recorded 192 new case.
The task force has since reinstituted some measures that were announced before the rerun presidential elections but flopped. Some of the measures include suspension of mobile markets, regulating of entertainment places and suspension of workshops and training except those related to Covid-19.
In a telephone interview yesterday Phuka said they are optimistic that people will take the measures seriously considering the seriousness of Covid-19. He said people must not wait to be policed but take personal initiative to follow the measures for their own safety.
Health activist Maziko Matemba also expressed optimism that “naturally Malawians are beginning to take Covid-19 seriously; hence it may no longer be an issue to adhere to set measures”.
He said when these measures were initially announced people defied them because there were two competing factors—the electoral question and Covid-19.
“Malawians wanted the political question settled first and after elections we have Covid-19 to focus on. I am glad to note that government is quite transparent in the management of Covid-19. It is making information available to the people and with these updates people are beginning to take covid-19 seriously,” noted Matemba.
According to Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango, so far 189 health workers have been infected by the virus leading to panic and fear among their colleagues who are expected to play a leading role in the fight against the deadly pandemic.
Another hiccup is that Malawi is running low on testing kits as a consignment of the same is stuck in Europe due to logistical challenges.
“But we have the supply to last us for 18 days. The consignment is likely to be in before what we have completely run out. So, there is really no need to panic for now,” said the Director of Health Services Dr. Charles Mwansambo.