Malawi still under COVID-19 variant threat, imports 4 cases from India

A technician operates an oxygen plant at KCH

Malawi continues to be under threat of importing a new strain of the Coronavirus from other regions and countries of the world notably from India where a new wave of the pandemic is currently spreading with severe mortality and morbidity.

This is confirmed by the latest COVID-19 update which indicates that as of 9th May, Malawi has registered five new cases, three new recoveries and no death.

“Of the new cases, one is locally transmitted and is from Zomba District while four cases are imported; they recently arrived from India and they are in Lilongwe District under institutional isolation,” read the COVID-19 update.

This comes hot on the heels of 19 out of the 31 samples collected from Salima sugar factory staff that arrived in the country from India from 22nd -24th April 2021, testing positive for Coronavirus.

Twenty out of 169 of the staff; a 13 percent representation, also tested positive for COVID-19 following mass screening, signifying on-going community transmission of the virus at the premises.

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Closed down: Salima Sugar Company

This prompted government on 3rd May to order the company to halt its operations in a bid to contain the ongoing transmission and clean the working factory environment of any background viral contamination.

Despite the country registering low number of cases, the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 has however cautioned the public against a complacent attitude in adhering to the preventive and containment measures.

In its update, the Taskforce noted that Malawi is still experiencing community transmission evidenced by the fact that the new confirmed cases being reported daily are predominantly spread locally.

Co-Chairperson of the Taskforce Khumbize Chiponda described as worrisome that some people have relaxed and are not practicing the preventive measures amid a threat of a third wave.

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Health Minister Chiponda with President Chakwera in this file photo

“Let me emphasise that the low figures being reported now should not make us relax. In order to suppress and reduce the spread of the disease in our midst, we need to strictly adhere to all the preventive measures and get vaccinated

 “At the same time, other countries are observing a surge in the number of new cases, admissions and deaths; this poses a risk for a third wave across the globe. It is very important at this point that we sustain the gains we have made so far and ensure that we suppress the transmission even further by strictly adhering to the COVID-19 preventive and containment measures,” observed Chiponda.

With 319,323 AstraZeneca doses administered in the country, she urged those aged 18 years and above to get vaccinated as this will reduce their risk of developing severe disease when they contract the virus and the shots will also help in reducing the risk of hospitalizations and deaths.