By Alex Chitwere, MANA
Stakeholders in Neno District Monday expressed worry over trucks that park at Zalewa Trading Centre on their transit to and from outside the country, fearing the drivers are at risk of transmitting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to locals with whom they interact with.
This was discussed during a joint meeting between the district’s civil protection and public health emergency committees on the sensitization of the outbreak.
Members felt that personnel in the trucks poses a threat of transmitting the Coronavirus as most of them are operating from the affected countries like South Africa passing through Zimbabwe and Mozambique who have registered cases.
“We all know that once these trucks park there, they seek contact with our people and that’s where the danger comes,” observed a businessman, Alick Makiyi.
District Commissioner (DC) for Neno, Blessings Nkhoma said they would consult the Central Government on how they could handle the threat.
Medicines San Frontiers reported to the meeting that it was in the process of training sex workers whom they work with on how they could handle the situation and the need to pay attention to the signs and symptoms on them or people around them.
The organization said they were procuring hand washing facilities for bars, rest houses and other key public service places.
District Medical Officer, Dr. Enoch Ndalama said the health department would like to have the infrared thermometers that would be used to screen temperatures on the spot to suspected patients.
“We have those that came with Ebola outbreak scare but the problem is calibration. We are still lobbying with partners to procure some that we could be using,” he said.
The meeting resolved to ban all social gatherings that included weddings, sporting activities and video shows with immediate effect.
The world is battling with the outbreak but Malawi is among few counties that has not registered a confirmed case of the disease despite having a good number of people in isolation.
Meanwhile, Mchinji District Hospital has erected tents at the Mchinji-Mwami-Zambia border to be used as check points and temporary quarantine facility in a bid to intensify the prevention of the pandemic.
District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) for Mchinji, Robson Kayira said the tents, donated by UNICEF some years back, are aimed at ensuring that all people crossing the border are checked.
Kayira said two tents have been erected as quarantine facilities in case of COVID-19 suspects.
He said the hospital was working with the Immigration Department and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officials to ensure that the arrangement was successful.
Recently, at a District Public Health Emergency Management Committee meeting held in Mchinji in the wake of the pandemic, Director of Health and Social Services for Mchinji, Dr. Juliana Kanyengambeta called for support from all stakeholders to help the district prevent the COVID-19.
“As a border district, Mchinji is prone to the disease since our neighbouring countries have registered COVID-19 cases and we need more equipment, more health workers to help us work effectively,” she said.
Kanyengambeta added that the hospital needs drug and supplies, training for health workers, community sensitisation among other things.
Last week, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, Minister of Information Mark Botomani and Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi visited the Mchinji border with Zambia to check the preparedness of the district in COVID-19 prevention.—Additional reporting by Sarah Munthali, MANA