* Only 14 new recoveries in past 24 hours
* 371 of the new cases are locally transmitted infections
* Of the active cases 117 are admitted in 15 hospitals
* Queen Elizabeth has highest number of admissions at 52
* Total number of active cases at 3,084
By Duncan Mlanjira
In just 11 days into the New Year, the country has now registered a total of 62 COVID-19 related deaths following 19 deaths that have been recorded in the past 24 hours in which 373 are new cases with just 14 new recoveries.
These deaths include those of two very senior Cabinet Ministers — late Sidik Mia (Minister of Transport and Public Works as well as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice-president) and late Lingson Belekanyama (Minister of Local Government and Rural Development).
This is a record-high number of COVID-19 related deaths since the outbreak in April and follows 12 registered on Saturday and 10 on Monday, bringing the total figure of deaths at 254.
There is also a rapid increase in the number of admissions as of total 3,084 active cases, 117 are admitted in 15 hospitals across the country with Blantyre’s Queen Elizabeth Central having highest figure at 52.
There are 30 in Lilongwe — 18 at Kamuzu Central and 12 at Bwaila while there are seven in Mzimba North, four each in Zomba and Mzimba South and three each in Rumphi, Kasungu, Karonga and Nkhotakota.
There two each in Balaka, Mulanje and Chikwawa and one each in Dowa and Mchinji.
Six of the new deaths are from Lilongwe, five from Blantyre, four Mzimba North (Mzuzu), two from Zomba and one each from Balaka and Phalombe Districts.
“Our hearts go out to families that have lost loved ones due to COVID-19,” says co-chairperson of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka in his situation report.
“May you find peace, hope and love during this difficult times. May the departed souls rest in peace.
“It is trying times for our country, but all is not lost. We should not despair or lose hope as we can stop the spread of the disease if all of us act decisively and choose to adhere to the preventive measures.”
These were the same soothing words that State President Lazarus Chakwera made today when he declared a State of National Disaster, saying the measure was for the country to have a multi-sectoral approach to the pandemic.
The President took cognizance of the “commendable job” done by Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in “providing expert guidance on our fight against the spread of this virus.
He also called for an emergency meeting of the Taskforce to explore additional measures to be effected immediately in view of his declaration of a state of national disaster across the country.
The meeting is expected to establish a method for measuring and declaring the shifting severity of the pandemic by the use of numerical levels, with preventive and curative measures stipulated for each level to guide public awareness and behavior.
“I want to assure you all that the full weight and authority of my office will be brought to bear on the Taskforce’s interventions and regular public updates on what has been done, what is being done, and what is yet to be done in our fight against this invisible enemy.
“This taskforce has my full support and participation, and I expect that it will have the full cooperation of all citizens,” the President said.
Of the new cases, 371 are locally transmitted infections with Lilongwe as the highest at 132 and 92 from Blantyre, 29 from Zomba, 13 from Mangochi, 12 from Balaka and 10 from Kasungu.
Nine are from Dowa, eight each from Nsanje and Ntcheu, seven from Chikwawa, six each from Chikwawa and Thyolo, five from Rumphi, four each from Mzimba South, Karonga, Dedza, Mulanje, and Phalombe.
Three are from Nkhata Bay, two each from Mzimba North and Neno, and one from Chiradzulu Districts while two cases are imported infections and both are from Balaka District.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 9,400 cases and of these cases, 1,832 are imported infections and 7,568 are locally transmitted.
Cumulatively, 5,852 cases have now recovered, 134 were lost to follow-up, and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.
Dr. Phuka continues to stress that the chances of one recovering from COVID-19 increases when the disease is identified as early as possible hence the need for prompt health seeking behaviour.
“I would like to encourage the public to promptly inform the health authorities by calling toll-free number 54747 (Airtel) or 929 (TNM) whenever one is experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms such as fever, cough, flu, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell and tiredness.
“This will help us to identify the disease in early stages so that appropriate care can be given immediately.”
Dr. Phuka adds that they have observed that there is sometimes congestion with the toll free numbers 54747 and 929, therefore the public is encouraged to utilize the dedicated emergency numbers for the district health offices rapid response teams as shared by the Ministry of Health.
“Watch your distance! Wash your hands! Wear your mask! Seek for care early upon development of symptoms of COVID-19.”