* It is important to regard everyone you meet as a potential carrier of COVID-19–Dr. Phuka
* Malawians and residents only allowed in upon production of original certified valid COVID-19 negative test result
* Malawians and residents can travel out but all foreigners not permitted in through land borders
By Duncan Mlanjira
The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 has resolved to close all land borders for two weeks starting from December 23 except for essential goods transportation, deportees and those in special circumstances.
Tuesday’s situation report from the task force’s co-chairperson, Dr. John Phuka also says Malawians and residents can return to Malawi upon production of an original certified valid COVID-19 negative test result.
And that Malawians and residents can travel out but all foreigners will not be allowed in through land borders.
The resolution also says all essential service providers should get clearance from the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and that only gatherings a minimum of 100 people will be allowed during the 14 days.
The gatherings include weddings, music shows, sports, arts, hotels, ceremony gardens or parks and religious and all must wear face masks.
Dr. Phuka says this follows the substantial increase of COVID-19 cases from 30 on the December 11 to 210 as of Tuesday.
The country registered 46 new cases on Tuesday from 389 tests of which four were new recoveries, and no new deaths.
Of the new cases, 17 are locally transmitted — 14 from Blantyre, three from Lilongwe while 29 are imported infections.
The imported cases were identified among 108 returning residents from South Africa whose final destination districts are Blantyre (5), Lilongwe, Mzimba North, Mzimba South, Nkhata Bay (3 each), Dedza, Mulanje and Thyolo (2 each) and one each to Karonga, Kasungu, Machinga, Mangochi, and Zomba.
Cumulatively, 5,668 cases have now recovered while 107 were lost to follow-up and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.
Of the active cases, two are currently admitted at Kamuzu Central Hospital.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 6,248 cases including 187 deaths and of these cases, 1,304 are imported infections and 4,944 are locally transmitted.
Dr. Phuka says this increase in new cases of locally transmitted and imported infections is very shocking.
“As if this is not enough, we hear there is a new strain of this virus that has emerged and that spreads extremely fast,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, this is happening during festive season when celebrations may spread the disease extremely fast through gatherings.
“Therefore, The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 is challenged to control the entry of the disease as well as to stop spreading of the disease in our beloved country to ensure continuation of essential socioeconomic activities like education and transportation of essential goods.
“The Presidential Task Force aims at safeguarding education of children by ensuring that COVID-19 does not escalate further. To achieve this all adults and parents need to sacrifice their luxuries and even some of economic activities.”
On Monday, Dr. Phuka had urged the public to regard everyone they meet as a potential carrier of the disease because out of 10 people infected with coronavirus, nine will not feel sick at all.
“We have also observed that some are confirmed COVID-19 positive when they get tested for travel and this confirms that there are undetected cases in our community.
“It is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, be isolated, and depending on the severity of their disease, they receive appropriate medical care.
“Those confirmed to have COVID-19 but who do not have symptoms, should be isolated to limit their contact with others,” he said.
Going into December, new cases that were being registered were minimal and COVID-19 related deaths remained stagnant.
But on December 8, there was one new death, no new cases and the were at 38.
Then the new cases started rising — 8 on December 12, 3 the next day, 4 on 14th, 10 on 15th, 11 on 16th, 47 on 17th, 10 on 18th, 5 on Saturday the 19th, 8 on Sunday, 41 on Monday and 46 on Tuesday — bringing the active case to 210.
Dr. Phuka said the health authorities have resumed testing of primary contacts to the confirmed to ensure that the risk of transmission is reduced and proper care is given if found positive.
“Those people who have been in contact with COVID-19 cases are required to get tested and be on quarantine for 14 days.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s situation report as of Sunday showed that the country registered 9,445 new cases and cumulatively it has 921,922 active cases. The pandemic has claimed 24,691 related deaths.
In Zambia, there are 575 active case as of Monday and so far the pandemic has claimed a total of 375 deaths.
Zimbabwe is also on the high alert and its president Emmerson Mnangagwa has asked the country police to enforce lockdown restrictions during Christmas following people indifference to observance of preventive measures. It also plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccine.