In the wake of increasing Covid-19 cases, opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has called on authorities to open more testing centres, involve civil society organisations (CSOs) in the fight and cushion low-income earners.
Government has since said it is already carrying out some of the suggested initiatives.
In a statement issued on Saturday, UDF president AtupeleMuluzi says the rising Covid-19 cases need urgent attention as they may have a serious implication on the country.
He said: “Faced with this unprecedented situation, we are now approaching the threshold set within the Government National Contingency Plan for it to be termed a ‘significant outbreak’.
“Accordingly, we call on government to make the required Covid-19 funds available during the budget review to help cover the increasing cost of managing the disease, including [personal protective equipment] PPE for our health personnel and [their] risk allowances.”
Muluzi also asked government to revise its National Response Strategy, increase testing sites nationwide, enhance public awareness, treatment and prevention to effectively manage the pandemic.
“Gaps have been identified in our existing strategy and this has been worsened by the new variant that appears to be more contagious. As a result, the public is struggling to get tested as treatment centres are overstretched and we are witnessing both cases and deaths being underreported,” he said.
The former minister of Health in immediate past president Peter Mutharika’s administration further warned that if Covid-19 is not effectively contained, it will severely impact on the country’s socioeconomic development.
But in an interview yesterday, Minister of Health KhumbizeChiponda said government is already increasing testing centres to improve access to the service.
“We know there is need for more tests and we are opening more centres,” she said.
On involvement of CSOs, the minister said every sector of the community, including chiefs, is represented in the Presidential Task Force on Covi-19.
She also said the most vulnerable groups are being taken care through cash transfer initiative.
Chiponda said she welcomes further suggestions for the smooth implementation of Covid-19 response.
As of Sunday, the country had registered a cumulative 8 575 Covid-19 cases with 225 deaths.