Results of Covid-19 samples that were recorded at Salima Sugar Company for testing in South Africa to establish if it was the Indian variant are not yet out.
Ministry of Health last week indicated that samples, which were collected from Indians who had travelled into the country and tested positive for Covid-19 a few days after their arrival, would be ready by last week.
In an interview yesterday, the ministry’s spokesperson Joshua Malango said the results were not out, but expressed optimism that they would be ready this week.
He attributed the delay to the logistical challenges and the high number of samples that the South African Centres for Disease Control (CDC) laboratory is receiving.
Said Malango: “Their CDC lab was overwhelmed because they are getting samples from different countries. But with the long weekend, we are expecting them this week.
“The transportation also took some days because they went by road as there were no flights.”
Reacting to the matter in a written response, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Kuhes) epidemiology and public health professor Adamson Muula wondered why the results have taken long to come out.
He said: “As to the information that we have not yet gotten the results from South Africa as to what strain or strains this was or these were, it is surprising to some of us that it has taken this long.
“In fact, it raises other questions including as to why we sent the samples to South Africa when the capacity is available locally. This was mentioned in the President’s previous speech.”
He said Malawians should continue observing precautionary measures such as taking the vaccine, hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing and use of face masks.
On his part, Society of Medical Doctors president Victor Mithi suggested that. in the absence of the results, Malawians must treat Salima cases as the Indian variant which is killing many people in the Asian country
Meanwhile, 15 Indian nationals who tested positive for Covid-19 at the Salima factory have now recovered after they tested negative yesterday.
In an interview, Salima District Council Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response coordinator Noel Khunga said another Indian who is also a Salima Sugar Company employee tested
positive to make the total active cases in the district 33.
On May 3 2021, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda ordered the closure of the company after 19 of 31 samples collected from the staff who arrived from India and 22 of 169 other staff (69 from India and 100 local staff) tested Covid-19 positive.
She further directed that all confirmed Covid-19 cases be placed under institutional isolation and that all others working at the factory be placed under institutional quarantine forthwith, at the cost of the company