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Covid-19: Cases now at 17

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Government says the country has now recorded a total of 17 cases of coronavirus (Covid 19), with the latest case recorded in Blantyre yesterday.

Briefing the press in Lilongwe, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango says there were indications that some of the earlier cases recorded were getting better, adding that another test will be carried out on the patients today.

Meanwhile, it has transpired that some landlords in Lilongwe are evicting healthcare workers from their houses because of concerns about possible Covid-19 infection, Malawi News has established.

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The development has raised further concerns that medical staff are being stigmatised because of their contact with various patients in their respective health facilities.

Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Director, Jonathan Ngoma,said a number of health workers have complained that they are being threatened with eviction while others have already been evicted and the ministry has been informed.

“The ministry knows about this and you should ask them,” Ngoma said.

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One junior doctor who asked not be identified and stays in Area 23 said she had been told to move out from her house because of the nature of her Job.

“I have been told to move out from my house, for which I have just paid rentals, I have told the management and they have told me they will look into the matter, meanwhile, I am staying with a colleague,” she said.

Last week, Lilongwe City Mayor Juliana Kaduya warned residents that the council will deal with anyone attempting to attack healthcare workers on suspicion that they are infected by Covid-19 just because of the nature of their work.

The recent death of a second Covid-19 patient has caused fear among some residents, who are suspecting that healthcare workers who handled him might have contracted the disease.

On his part, Mhango said discrimination against medical workers is a total violation of human rights and it cannot be condoned

He has since said his ministry will investigate the issue.

Meanwhile a grouping of health 33 Non Governmental Organisations, including Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), ActionAid among others has written government through the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 to outline how vulnerable Malawians (the poor, people living with HIV/AIDS, persons with disabilities) who cannot sustain themselves, would be taken care of in the event of a lockdown.

They have since accused government of monopolising implementation of the initiatives in the fight against the pandemic

They add that there are a number of notable gaps in the fight against the pandemic, citing examples such as lack of screening at some border posts such as Namizana and Mkanda in Mchinji because the district has only 4 infrared thermometers.

They have since recommended that at least 15 percent of the funds meant for Covid-19 response should be directed to awareness raising through use of public address systems at night around communities, printing & distribution of more IEC materials and utilization of government extension workers from other MDAs (Community Development Assistants, Social Welfare Assistants, Forestry Assistants, Agricultures Extension Development Officers etc.) and other existing structures such as ADCs, VDCs and chiefs).

When asked to comment on the matter, government spokesperson Mark Botomani said he had not read the statement as he was in a meeting.

“I have not yet read the statement,” Botomani said.

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