* 154 new cases identified amongst 700 Malawian SA returnees held at Mapanga reception centre
* Total number of active cases now at 2,744
* 452 is highest number ever recorded since the first case on April 2, 2020
* The active cases admitted are in 13 hospitals across the country
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi is still observing a rapid increase in the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, admissions and deaths during the past three weeks.
In just the past 24 hours, Malawi has registered 452 new COVID-19 cases, 10 new related death and of the new cases, 154 were identified among 700 Malawian returnees from South Africa, who had been detained at Mapanga Prison Training School along Zomba Road.
Unfortunately, the returnees rioted on Sunday and several were reported to have bolted from camp, thereby posing a huge risk in the communities they have headed to.
A situation report from co-chairperson of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka, says this brings the total number of active cases to 2,744.
Of the active cases, 102 active cases are admitted in 13 hospitals across the country — 45 in Blantyre, 31 in Lilongwe, five in Zomba, four in Mzimba South, three each in Mzimba North, Karonga, and Nkhotakota, two each in Balaka and Chikwawa, and one each in Dowa, Mchinji, Rumphi, and Mulanje districts.
There are just 14 new recoveries, bringing total number of recoveries at 5,838 while cumulative number of related deaths is at 235 since the pandemic broke out last April.
Four of the new deaths are from Lilongwe, three are from Blantyre, two form Zomba, and one Kasungu.
“Our hearts go out to families that have lost loved ones due to COVID-19,” says Dr. Phuka. “May you find peace, hope and love during this difficult times. May their souls rest in peace.”
Of the new cases, 20 were imported identified at Mwanza border through routine screening of people entering the country — making a total of 174 as imported while 278 of the new cases are locally transmitted infections.
They are 125 from Lilongwe, 70 from Blantyre, 13 from Karonga, 10 each from Mwanza and Nkhotakota, eight from Mulanje, seven each from Machinga and Zomba.
Six are from Dedza, five from Balaka, four each Kasungu and Nsanje, three from Thyolo, two each from Chikwawa and Dowa, and one each from Phalombe, Salima and Neno districts.
Dr. Phuka continues to emphasize that everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, though the disease is often more severe in older people and/or those that have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes (sugar disease), hypertension (high BP), TB and HIV, asthma or conditions that affect their immune system.
“It has been observed that many people are not aware that they have these underlying conditions and only became aware while having COVID-19 infection and in most instances the condition becomes severe.
“It is important for the for everyone to routinely get screened for these underlying conditions and for those that have these chronic diseases, it is important ensure that the chronic condition you live with it under control.
“This means ensuring you are regularly taking medication for diabetes (sugar disease), hypertension (high BP), HIV, TB and asthma.”
To effectively reduce and stop the coronavirus from spreading, Dr. Phuka reiterates that there is need for a collective effort to contain the pandemic by comprehensively following all the preventive and containment measures.
These include the usual that have been sensitised on since the pandemic reached the country last, but which the public relaxed especially during the festive season that has led to the second wave of the disease.
The preventive measures that the government has all along tried to inculcate as a daily culture include frequent handwashing with soap, proper wearing of mask, avoiding over- crowded places as well as practising cough and sneeze etiquette.
The public is also being asked to stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms and decontaminating commonly touched surfaces.
Dr. Phuka is also asking the public to desist from creating and sharing fake news and misinformation on COVID-19 as this is creating fear and panic.
“Let me ask ever one of us to only share information that will help to stop the spread of the disease, only share information from the trusted sources and if you are in doubt you can verify with the health authorities near you.
“The Government has put in place different platforms where information on COVID-19 is being shared.
“Watch your distance! Wash your hands! Wear your mask! Seek for care early upon development of symptoms of COVID-19.”
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 9,027 cases and of these cases, 1,852 are imported infections and 7,175 are locally transmitted.
Cumulatively, 5,838 cases have now recovered, 134 were lost to follow-up, and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.
The average age of the cases is 35 years, the youngest case being aged two weeks, the oldest being 98 years old and 67.3% are male.
On testing, in the past 24 hours, 1,696 COVID-19 tests were conducted, 147 of the new tests were through SARS-COV-2 Antigen Rapid Diagnostic test.
The rest were through RT-PCR and cumulatively, 97,429 tests have been conducted in the country so far, as according to Dr. Phuka’s situation report.
Meanwhile, of as of Monday, January 11, reported cases of Covid-19 related deaths from 55 African countries has reached 72,708 and confirmed cases are at 3,051,591 while they are 2,466,576 people have recovered.
South Africa has the most reported cases — 1,231,597 of which 33,163 are related deaths.
Other most-affected countries are Morocco (452,532), Tunisia (159,276), Egypt (149,792), Ethiopia (128,316), and Libya (104,745).
The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well national and regional public health departments.