Public coffers have raised at least K178.5 million revenue from coronavirus tests conducted on air travellers since the reopening of airports last September after the first wave of Covid-19 eased, it has emerged.
The Covid-19 tests for air travellers are conducted at the country ’s four central hospitals and the Public Health Institute of Malawi (Phim) with each test costing K37 500. In turn, the travellers are issued a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) certificate, a document that certifies that one took a PCR Covid test and is negative.
In an interview yesterday, Malawian Airlines spokesperson Joseph Josiah said their aircraft is flying five times a week to Johannesburg, South Africa and carries a maximum of 40 passengers due to Covid-19 restrictions.
This means that since the reopening of the country’s airports on September 1 2020, Malawian Airlines alone has carried an average of 4 760 passengers, who obtained the [PCR Covid certificates and generated K178.5 million.
The amount could be higher as some passengers use Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways while others go for retests after initially testing positive.
When asked how the funds collected from Covid-19 tests are used, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said in an interview yesterday that the money is used at the facilities which conducted the tests.
He said: “The funds were being kept at the facilities because we were waiting for the authority from Treasury following our request that the money should be used
to buy some needs in these facilities.”
In a separate interview, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) director Samson Mndolo confirmed that travellers, who want to go for Covid-19 test to obtain PCR Covid certificates, pay a non-refundable fee of K37 500 per head.
He said: “When the applicants test positive, it is their own loss because they will not travel and we don’t refund the money. Some of the infrastructure you see at Queens, including airport chairs, we have bought using the same money from the tests.”
Malawi on September 1 2020 reopened airports after a two-month closure as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.
Besides QECH, other faci l ities conducting Covid-19 tests for travellers are Phim, Kamuzu, Mzuzu and Zomba central hospitals.