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Committee urges screening for chronic conditions

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Co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 John Phuka Sunday said the country would register a positive change if people adhered to measures set for containing the virus and cared about getting screened for conditions such as hypertension.

“Many people realise that they have high blood pressure when they test positive for the disease. For those that have never gone for such testing, it is time to get themselves screened and know their chronic conditions. If they know their status, they will be able to fully protect themselves,” Phuka said.

Covid-19 mortality rates are said to be high in those of advanced years and others with underlying health conditions. The past few weeks, the country has been reporting an average of five deaths per day despite registering more recoveries too.

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Phuka has dismissed reports that the pandemic has escalated due to change in weather, stressing that even countries that are in summer are still reporting spikes in cases of the virus.

“People have to reflect when they intend to go out. We should not reach a point where we have to force people to adhere to the prevention measures. In public health, you agree with the community on what to do. Enforcement should only be there for the sake of those that choose not to follow,” Phuka said.

As of Saturday, Malawi had registered over 90 Covid-related deaths with 207 new recoveries.

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Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda, who is also Co- Chairperson of the committee, said they had agreed to disburse K1.3 billion to municipal and city councils to improve local level interventions including testing, screening, supplies surveillance enforcement and coordination and monitoring

Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at College of Medicine, Adamson Muula, said there is need to equip all central hospitals with oxygen supplies which are more important than ventilators in handling Covid-19 patients.

“The next one to two months will be very hard for Malawi. What we can do is to ensure that it does not get as bad as it can. And there are already many things happening which are going in the right direction.

“I have heard discussions about ventilators which are important but not as important at this point as piped free flow oxygen treatment not necessarily through ventilators,” Muula said.

He added that there is need for an overflow of information about the pandemic and that everyone must take it as their responsibility to protect others.

“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to be truthful. Perhaps we need this more than medicines. There is fear. There is stigma. There is lack of necessary data and information that should inform everything we are doing. Some of us need to start fitness programmes.

“Covid-19 finds those who are overweight, those who do not exercise easy prey. We need to understand that each one of us has a role to protect ourselves and others. We need to mask up, mask up and mask up. There should not be any exception. We need to have our political leadership remind us all the time to use masks whenever we are in public,” he said.

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