By Duncan Mlanjira
As Malawi continues continues to register more COVID-19 cases, five people are reported to have succumbed to the pandemic as of Sunday, July 26 after recording 107 new cases.
The total number of deaths since April is now at 99 with just the past week alone registering 22.
As of Tuesday last week, there were 104 new cases with seven deaths, on Thursday there were 84 new with three deaths, Saturday there were 103 new with seven deaths while Sunday recorded 107 new with five deaths.
A situation report presented by co-chairperson of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka says four of the new deaths occurred in Lilongwe and one in Blantyre.
The new recoveries are at 60, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,645 while total number of active cases is 1,920.
Of the 107 new cases, 87 are locally transmitted infections and 20 imported identified among Malawians returning from South Africa by bus.
Dr. Phuka update indicates that COVID-19 healthcare workers continue to be vulnerable as from the locally transmitted infections, seven are the frontline workers (three from Karonga, two from Mzimba North and one each from Blantyre and Mzimba South.
Saturday’s update had four frontline health care workers (two from Lilongwe and one each from Mulanje and Nkhata Bay).
Of the 107 new locally transmitted infections, 33 are from Blantyre, 16 from Lilongwe, 15 from Neno, 5 from Karonga, four from Zomba, three each from Mzimba North and Mzimba South and one from Kasungu.
The update adds that cumulatively Malawi has recorded 3,664 cases including 99 deaths and of these 946 are imported infections and 2,718 being local transmissions.
The average age of the cases is 36 years, the youngest being aged 1 month, the oldest is 93 years old while men top the list at 66%.
The country has so far conducted 27,147 COVID-19 tests in 39 testing sites.
Dr. Phuka update says from the data accumulated, a lot of cases — over 85% — have mild or no symptoms at all and where practical they are advised to self-isolate at home.
He thus asks those that have been confirmed COVID-19 positive and are on self-isolation to:
*Separate themselves from other people in their homes in a well ventilated bedroom. The rest of the family should not stay or sleep in the same room with them
*Use a separate bathroom and if they share one bathroom, they must clean/disinfect after every use
*Avoid sharing items and the same spaces with other people and clean/disinfect surfaces regularly
*Stay at least 1 meter away from other people in the home
*Wear face masks properly to help prevent the spread of the disease to others
*Cough or sneeze into the fold of the elbow. Alternatively, cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose tissue in a dedicated bin
*Clean hands often with soap and water for at least 40 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
*If you do not isolate yourself correctly, you may infect others within the household.
Dr. Phuka further asks those not positive that if they share their home with a person who is self-isolating they should:
*Wash their hands regularly with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
*Avoid touching faces, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
*To clean frequently touched surfaces regularly
*Exclude the person in self-isolation from the common areas of the home.
“When these isolation conditions are not possible within your household, contact healthcare workers in your area for Government supported institution isolation,” says Dr. Phuka.
“Health care workers and other frontline workers are reminded to strictly follow Infection Prevention and Control measures all the time.”
Proper use of face masks is as follows:
*Clean hands before putting on the mask;
*Inspect the mask for tears and holes, do not use a mask that is damaged;
*Adjust the mask to cover the mouth, nose and chin, leaving no gaps on the sides;
*Avoid touch the mask while wearing it;
*Change mask if it gets dirty or wet;
*Clean hands before taking off the mask;
*Take off mask by removing it from ear loops without touching the front of the mask;
*Medical masks are for a single use only — discard the mask immediately, preferably into a closed bin. Do not liter;
*Wash hands with soap after removing mask;
*If using a cloth mask, wash it in hot water using soap at least once a day.
“Remember, a mask alone cannot protect you from COVID-19 — it must be combined with other measures, including maintaining at least one-meter distance from each other, washing hands frequently and avoiding touching your face while wearing a mask,” says Dr. Phuka.