Covid-19 spreads to all districts

All 28 districts in Malawi now have confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19) cases after Rumphi registered its first two cases this week.

In an interview yesterday, Rumphi District Health Office (DHO) spokesperson Bwanalori Mwamlima said the two cases involve a 70-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman.

He said both cases are locally transmitted infections which were identified at Rumphi Boma and Mhuju in the district, and that contact tracing of the two is underway

Said Mwamlima: “The male patient is said to have travelled to Mzuzu where he contacted a relative who is a confirmed Covid-19 patient. This male patient had been taking antibiotics for some time. He tested positive to Covid-19 on June 25 2020.

Zikhale Chakwera
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera donating Covid19 protective equipment a few months ago

“The other patient tested positive on June 26 2020. Currently, both patients are self-isolating in their homes where they are being followed up by health workers accordingly.”

He said 11 Covid-19 tests have been conducted on the contacts of the two and that all health workers who previously attended to the patients have been put on quarantine while their samples are being tested.

“We are currently following up on more people who could have been in contact with the two patients,” said Mwamlima.

He has since urged people to strictly observe Covid-19 preventive measures as stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

On Tuesday, epidemiologist Dr Titus Divala asked government to urgently institute measures to halt the further spread of the pandemic, whose figures continue soaring.

He said: “There is need to formulate a Covid-19 Bill, containing the key evidence-based approaches, finances, epidemic management structures up to community level, relationship to government departments, among others, and seek parliamentary mandate for the management of the pandemic.”

Malawi Health Equity Network  executive director George Jobe also asked government to reinforce the Covid-19 guidelines set up by the Ministry of Health so that the country’s fight against the pandemic is effective.

He said: “When the first case was reported, people took it seriously, and followed the rules, but this changed because a minister was given mandate to be announcing cases and some people thought it was political. Let technocrats continue handling the response.”

Last month, Chitipa district commissioner (DC) Humphrey Gondwe  became the first prominent public servant to have died of coronavirus. Six other civil servants who had been in contact with the DC also tested positive.

On 20 March 2020, Covid-19 was declared a National Disaster in Malawi and on April 2 2020, the country registered its first three cases of coronavirus. This was followed by a lockdown announcement which was challenged in court.

The cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Malawi as of yesterday was 1 265, including 16 deaths and 260 recoveries. Out of these, 639 are  imported infections and 581 are locally transmitted, while 45 are still under investigation meaning the total number of active cases is 989.