By Duncan Mlanjira
From 494 COVID-19 tests that have been done in the past 24 hours, there were 23 new cases, 21 new recoveries and no new deaths.
Of the new cases, 19 are locally transmitted and four are imported infections — two recorded on new arrivals at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa and the other two are truck drivers identified at Mwanza border through routine screening of people entering the country.
Of the locally transmitted infections, 11 are from Lilongwe, seven from Blantyre, and one from Mulanje.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 5,653 cases including 176 deaths and of these cases, 1,137 are imported infections and 4,516 are locally transmitted.
Cumulatively, 3,624 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 1,853.
The country has so far conducted 47,351 COVID-19 tests in 45 COVID-19 testing sites.
In his situation report, co-chairperson of the presidential taskforce on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka says as more cases are recovering, the country is still experiencing community transmission of COVID-19.
He therefore reminds the public not relax their guard but continue to observe preventive measures by treating every stranger as potential carrier of the virus.
He stressed on the importance of wearing of non-medical masks (cloth masks) in all settings, saying high quality cloth masks can be made at community level and they are re-usable.
“This solves the waste disposal and environmental challenges posed by the single-use masks,” Dr. Phuka said. “Correct wearing of face mask combined with frequent handwashing with soap, observing physical distancing, cough etiquette and disinfection of frequent touched surfaces can further reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our country.
“Masks are not recommended for children under five years of age, whereas those aged 6 to 11 years, masks can be used under adult supervision and ability of the child to use a mask safely and appropriately.
“All children aged 12 years old and above should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults. Further it is important to note that the cloth masks are not recommended for use by persons providing home care for COVID-19 patients in which case medical masks are recommended.
The following is the guide for making a cloth mask to ensure that they are conforming to standards:
• Numbers of layers of fabric — minimum of 3 layers
• Inner layer — material that retains fluid droplets (hydrophilic) e.g. cotton or cotton blends
• Middle layer — material that retains fluid droplets (hydrophilic) e.g. synthetic nonwoven material such as polyproplylene or a cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets
• Outer layer — material that repels fluid droplets (hydrophobic) e.g. synthetic material like polypropylene, polyester, or their blends which may limit external contamination from penetration through to the wearer’s nose and mouth.
• Breathable material — should not markedly increase the work of breathing
• Shape of mask — flat-fold or duckbill design and must be designed to fit closely over the nose, cheeks and chin of the wearer fully.
• Fitting of mask — mask can be held in place using elastic bands or ties and should be comfortable to wear without the need for touching or readjustment once in place.
• Dimensions after sewing the cloth mask 180mm by 160 mm (Maximum) for an adult however smaller dimensions (160mm by 140 mm) may be used for children over the age of 6-11 years (to wear under adult supervision) and over 12 years.
The following is a guide on how to properly put on and removing a cloth mask:
1. Check if the mask is clean, undamaged and dry before use.
2. Clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before putting on a face mask
3. Place the mask on, ensuring it fully covers the mouth and nose, and tie securely/place elastic ear loops to minimize any gaps.
4. Avoid touching the front of the mask while wearing it, if you do, clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap and water.
5. Remove the mask by untying from behind or taking off the elastic ear loops.
6. Do not touch the front of the mask.
7. After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, clean hands using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
8. Change masks when they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.
9. Cloth masks should be washed thoroughly with hot water and detergent after use & then either use a hot iron or drying in the sun.
10. When the cloth mask becomes unusable (torn, material is weak etc), dispose it in a pit latrine or burn it