Lilongwe Girls students to be kept on campus despite having 51.4% of them testing COVID-19 positive

* To facilitate monitoring of each affected student

* If released, they would pose a very high potential to spread the virus wider

* To encourage the students to give moral support to each other

* MSCE continue as planned until January 29 under strict preventive measures

By Duncan Mlanjira

From a public health perspective, the Ministry of Education has decided not to release all Lilongwe Girls Secondary School students, including the 51.4% that tested positive of COVID-19.

The testing exercise that took place last

The Ministry’s Secretary for Education, Chikondano Mussa said in statement that the students will be kept on campus in order to keep a close monitoring of each affected student and in the event of any developing severe symptoms, the medical professionals will take her to the nearest health facility at Bwaila Hospital or Kamuzu Central Hospital without delay.

She also said being together, the students will give moral support to each other along with their teachers and other health professionals who are constantly on the campus.

“The students’ parents and guardians are being kept informed as need arises,” Mussa said. “Government will thus make sure that everyone receives the most appropriate attention when needed.

She added that it is best for the public that the students remain on campus because if they were to be released to go home, they would pose a very high potential to spread the virus wider and faster wherever they go, including inside their homes and communities where they may transmit the infection to their elderly parents and guardians.

Secretary for Education, Chikondano Mussa

“The problem at Lilongwe Girls Secondary School is unprecedented and yet it offers insights and new emphasis to every citizen and resident in Malawi.”

Mussa disclosed that Lilongwe Girls Secondary School has a total of 605 students, 43 teachers and 24 support staff and when a group of 19 students complained of mild illness on January 12, the school decided to have them tested for COVID-19.

From the group, 16 tested positive, prompting Lilongwe District Health Office to carry out tests to all staff and students and provide appropriate interventions and guidance.

By the evening of 15th January, 2021 all students had been tested,” Mussa said. “From the total number of students, 311 (51.4%) tested positive.

Coronavirus alert

“All the students are being managed on campus. Those who tested positive have been isolated from the ones who tested negative and have a separate dormitory, kitchen and other facilities.

“Those who tested negative are being closely monitored for symptoms in case any of them develop an infection.

“With the exception of 16 students who have mild signs of illness, all students who have tested positive have no symptoms at all.

“Out of 38 members of staff tested, 5 members of staff tested positive and none of the staff members has symptoms.”

Coronavirus alert

She added that health authorities have already disinfected the entire school and the exercise shall be repeated periodically.

Mussa said Ministry of Education is working closely with the Ministry of Health, the Malawi Red Cross, Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) and others to ensure a full and appropriate response from Government.

Meanwhile, Mussa announced closure of schools for three weeks but the on-going Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) Examinations will continue as planned until January 29 under strict adherence of the COVID-19 preventive measures.

Coronavirus alert

Similarly, institutions of higher learning that already started administering end of semester examinations will remain open until they finish the examinations.

“Institutions of higher learning are advised to adjust exam timetables so as to facilitate early completion of the exams,” Mussa said.

Coronavirus alert

“However, all other classes in primary and secondary schools as well as in institutions of higher learning will close with immediate effect as announced by the President.

“Students in boarding schools will remain in their respective campuses until health authorities assess the severity of infection in those schools to determine whether it is safe for those students to go home.”

She said all teachers and lecturers are encouraged to keep students engaged with school work while on holiday as schools are expected to reopen on Monday, 8th February, 2021.

Coronavirus alert