Ministry of Health embarks on COVID-19 surveillance survey

By Alice Mambosasa, MANA

The Public Health Institute of Malawi in the Ministry of Health is conducting a survey titled ‘Community and Facility-based COVID-19 Surveillance in selected districts in Malawi aimed at understanding prevalence and risk factors associated with pandemic in the country.

Speaking during media briefing on the survey at Blantyre Health Office on Wednesday, health promotion officer, Chrissy Banda said the results of the survey will be helpful to the participants to know whether they are infected with the virus or not and if they test positive, they will be managed in line with the national guidelines.

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“The survey will help the ministry to plan activities to lower the spread and it will also help policy makers in planning and implementation of response activities for COVID-19,” she explained.

District Medical Officer, Fatsani Gunda said there has been a number of surveys that have been conducted but all have one purpose which is to lower the spread of COVID-19 despite that people have started not to be following most of its measures.

“We have observed that a few people are following the COVID-19 preventive measures,” he said.

“This is happening at a time schools are opening, sporting activities and celebrations like weddings have resumed — which puts more people at risk of getting the virus.”

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Gunda added that COVID-19 cases may continue reducing if people continue following measures like washing hands, wearing masks, 1 metre distancing and hopes that the survey results would also reveal how the measures have helped in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

The survey started on Monday, October 12 and is expected to be completed within the month of October with support from Norwegian Institute of Public Health, United States Centres for Disease Control and, Luke International Norway and Management Sciences for Health – Onse Health and International Training and Education Center for Health Malawi.

In his Thursday update, chairperson of the presidential task force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka said the past 24 hours of Thursday, Malawi has registered seven new cases, five new recoveries and no new deaths from the 248 tests done.

Four of the new cases are locally transmitted infections — three from Blantyre Health District and one from Zomba Health District and the three are imported infections — refugees that have recently arrived at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa Health District.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 5,836 cases including 181 deaths and of these cases, 1,162 are imported infections and 4,674 are locally transmitted.

Cumulatively, 4,728 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 927.

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The average age of the cases is 36.6 years, the youngest case being aged 1 month, the oldest being 98 years old and 68.4% are male. Cumulatively, 56,957 tests have been conducted in the country.

Thursday happened to be a global hand washing day, a day set aside to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap as a key factor in disease prevention especially respiratory, intestinal and diarrhoeal diseases.

Dr. Phuka took the opportunity to reiterate that when one washes their hands properly with soap and water, they will destroy the virus.

“The virus has a fatty layer around it, which holds it together. Soap is particularly good at breaking down that layer.

“However, handwashing with soap alone is not enough, therefore we need to ensure that we are practicing all the preventive measures wholesomely.

“In addition to handwashing with soap stay at home if you have flu like symptoms and decontaminating the commonly touched surfaces.”—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express

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