By Duncan Mlanjira
From the 32 new COVID-19 registered cases in the past 48 hours of Saturday, one was death of a frontline officer in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
According to a statement from State House, the deceased is police officer, Rodgers Kazembe who has since been buried by health personnel in line with burial guidelines of coronavirus related deaths.
A statement from co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka says three of the 32 new case are recoveries and that cumulatively, Malawi now has recorded 529 cases of which 5 are deaths.
Most of these cases are associated with travel history as out of the 529 national figures, 430 are imported infections with 86 as locally transmitted while 13 are still under investigation.
Of the new 32 cases, eight are from Salima, five from Machinga, five from Mangochi and three from Lilongwe.
“Balaka, Nsanje and Ntcheu have registered two cases each while Mzimba South, Mzuzu and Zomba have registered one case each,” says Dr. Phuka.
“All these new cases are associated with travel history. Sixteen more ne cases were identified during screening at Mwanza border between June 3-10.
“Of these cases, Blantyre and Mangochi had three cases each while Chikwawa, Dedza, Lilongwe and Zomba had two cases each. Nkhotakota and Machinga registered one new case each — totaling 48 new cases.”
Dr. Phuka says some cases that are consistently testing positive after 14 days of diagnosis are being monitored closely.
“The average age of the cases is 31.7 years, the youngest case is aged 1 year, the oldest is 75 years and 67% are male.
“The country has so far conducted 8,003 COVID-19 tests in 25 COVID-19 testing sites.”
Dr. Phuka reminded the general public to maintain observing the preventive measures that the Government set in order to contain the spread of the pandemic.
As of Friday, June 12, the confirmed COVID-19 case total from 55 African countries reached 216,775 with reported deaths reaching 5,852 and recoveries 98,686.
The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well national and regional public health departments.
Meanwhile, Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) Network has expressed concern of low political prioritization of water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) in the country in wake of the COVID-19 threat.
WES Network national coordinator, Willies Mwandira expressed the concern on Friday at a press briefing in Lilongwe, saying the pandemic was 100 percent WASH related — which requires washing hands regularly with clean water and soap in order to kill the virus.
Mwandira observed that budgetary allocations that fail to meet locally and internationally prescribed bench marks of 5 percent total national budget as per the Thekwini Declaration, which Malawi was a signatory to.
“Low prominence of WASH in health care facilities are critical in the fight against the pandemic and in preventing health care workers, patients, clients and guardians healthcare acquired infections,” he said.
He called for the sense of urgency by government to repair non-functional boreholes in rural areas and restoration of water supply for markets and strategically placed kiosks in low income areas to ensure continued hand washing practice.
“We already have structures in place that just need efficient utilization,” Mwandiran said. “Let us move from a country well known of putting policies, strategies and guidelines on paper but failing to implement them.”—Additional reporting by Tione Andsen, MANA