Zimbabwe High Commissioner Hilda Suka-Mafudze has urged Malawi and its neighbouring countries to put more efforts in sensitising communities to the need to take precautionary measures against coronavirus (Covid-19).
The diplomat sounded the warning in an interview on the sidelines of the World Day of Prayers (WDP) which her country organised for women in Lilongwe on Saturday.
Mafudze said Malawi and Zimbabwe should scale up preventive efforts against the deadly coronavirus, adding African countries have similar challenges that require concerted efforts.
She said: “Peace in Malawi and Zimbabwe has to prevail. The challenges we face in Malawi and Zimbabwe are similar to those the rest of the African continent is facing. The coronavirus is a fearful pandemic and that means we have to take measures because, at the moment, we don’t have curative measures.”
Zimbabwe organised the first ever prayers in Malawi since the World Day of Prayers was set up in 1970s. The event drew together women from various denominations to pray for a number of challenges the world is facing.
Coronavirus was part of the agenda and patrons were sensitised to preventive measures, particularly on hygienic practices and avoiding handshakes.
WDP organising chairperson Esther Sandra Grant said in an interview on the sidelines of the event that coronavirus was factored into the programme, noting that it continues to spread globally.
She said: “The virus is not here yet in Malawi. But we have to be aware and follow instructions on how it can be prevented. More needs to be done… We have to teach communities in our neighbouring countries about the pandemic.”
The prayers, which were conducted at St. Thomas Lake Malawi Anglican Church in Area 18, were organised under the theme Take Up Your Mat, Rise and Walk.
The coronavirus sensitisation at the gathering followed a similar one which the Catholic Church hosted for its faithful last week.
The Ministry of Health, too, has been advising on measures to follow in the face of the virus which has also affected over 50 people in South Africa as of yesterday.
The mass sensitisation comes at a time the virus is spreading at an alarming rate on the continent as well as the rest of the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30 2020, after it first emerged in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. WHO has since declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
In Italy alone, over 1 000 people have died while 17 000 other cases have been reported, according to BBC.
Over 138 000 people globally have now been confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, out of whom 68 000 have recovered, and more than 5 400 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.