One of the people who tested positive to COVID-19 and was in isolation at the hostels of the Salima sugar factory and developed severe respiratory symptoms, was pronounced dead on arrival at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe on 3rd May 2021.
In a bid to contain the further spread of the virus, government has ordered the immediate suspension of operations at the Salima Sugar Factory until further notice.
A letter by Health Minister to the Company’s General Manager, directed that all COVID-19 cases to be placed under institutional quarantine at the company’s cost.
“In exercise of the powers conferred in me by section 31 as read with section 29 of the Public Health Act (Cap. 34:01) Pubic Health (Corona Virus and COVID-19 (Prevention, Containment and Management) (Amendment) (No 2) Rules, 2021, I, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health, hereby direct that factory operations at Salima Sugar Company be suspended forthwith until further notice.
“I further direct 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,” read the letter.
Chiponda, who is also Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, directed that the factory premises and the environment be comprehensively fumigated also at the company’s cost.
She stated that those who will remain negative after the 14 days’ quarantine should be offered the AstraZeneca jab.
Nineteen of 31 samples collected from staff who arrived in the country from India from 22nd -24th April 2021, tested positive for Coronavirus: a 61.3 percent representation.
Some 22 out of 169 of the staff (69 from India and 100 local staff) representing 13 percent, also tested positive for COVID-19 following mass screening, signifying on-going community transmission of the virus at the premises.
According to the Minister, these directives are meant to contain the ongoing transmission, and clean the working factory environment of any background viral contamination.
In a statement, the Company’s Secretary Charles Thupi confirmed the closure of the factory.
The company recently received 40 expatriates from India employed to operate advanced machinery at the factory.
About 16 of the experts tested positive to the virus raising fears they could be carrying a variant which has wreaked havoc in India
Thupi said the decision to suspend its operations follows an order by the Ministry of Health for the premises to be fumigated.
In the past 24 hours, Malawi has registered 20 new cases, eight new recoveries and two deaths.