By Duncan Mlanjira
Following the re-opening of Kamuzu International Airport on 1st September and the commencement of commercial flights, government has set up designated test centres for those planning to travel outside the country to get tested and obtain a test certificate.
As preventive measures are still in force even though the numbers of new cases and their related deaths are positively declining, Malawi has adopted what other countries are doing, that returning residents and foreigners flying into the country will be required to produce a COVID-19 PCR negative certificate of not more than 10 days old from a designated testing laboratory of the country they are coming from and should be fully signed by approved signatories.
In the same vein, those planning to travel outside Malawi need to get tested and obtain a test certificate and should first check the COVID-19 requirements for the destination country.
In Saturday’s situation report from presidential taskforce on COVID-19, co-chairperson Dr. John Phuka says most countries are requiring a negative COVID-19 test certificate obtained within 14 days prior to arrival in the destination country and varies from country to country.
The designated test centres have been set up at National Public Health Institute of Malawi (CHSU Campus); Kamuzu Central Hospital; Mzuzu Central Hospital; Zomba Central Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.
Dr. Phuka says more laboratories will be added to this list progressively. He also reiterated a statement from Secretary of Health in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr. Charles Mwansambo, that said if a traveller arrives at the point of entry in Malawi without a valid certificate, they will be required to undergo a mandatory nasopharyngeal sample taken to be tested for COVID-19.
For this testing service, the travelers will be required to pay US$50 for Malawians and returning residents and US$100 for foreigners and the traveller will be required to proceed to their destination for self quarantine and the results will follow.
If a foreigner tests positive, they will be managed according to guidelines of Malawi at their cost and that if a foreigner decides to go back home whilst still positive, they will be required to travel whilst maintaining the COVID-19 protocols of physical distancing, hand hygiene and masking at their cost.
He further said if a Malawi and returning residents tests positive, they will be managed according to the country’s guidelines.
Dr. Phuka’s situation report says from the 253 tests done in the past 24 hours, two new cases were identified, no new COVID-19 related deaths while four were new recoveries.
From the cumulative figure of 5,718 cases 4,030 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 1,509 while related deaths are at 179.
Of the 5,718 cumulative cases, 1,146 are imported infections and 4,570 are locally transmitted.
Dr. Phuka further said other countries also require travellers to be under mandatory institutional/home quarantine for 14 days, mandatory wearing of face mask and other various screening processes hence the need to get these requirements in advance and prepare appropriately.
He also warns that travellers can bring back infections from the destination countries and therefore it is important to take steps to protect themselves and others by:
• Wearing a mask to keep nose and mouth covered when in public settings;
• Avoiding close contact by staying at least 1 meter from anyone who is not from same household;
• Washing hands often with soap or to use alcohol based hand sanitizer;
• Avoiding contact with anyone who is sick;
• Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
• Avoiding touching various surfaces such as handrails, desks, chairs etc.