There are now nine Covid-19 cases in Malawi since the announcement of the first cases on April 02 by President Peter Mutharika.
Confirming the development in Lilongwe yesterday, chairperson of the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 Jappie Mhango said the 9th person was a Burundian national who arrived in Malawi from Canada.
This means Lilongwe has four coronavirus patients in addition to the three cases that were diagnosed last week.
“The patient is a 44 year-old male and resident of Area 25B in Lilongwe, The man is a Canadian but originally from Burundi. He came into the country on March 28 2020.” Muhango revealed Mhango added that the patient has other medical conditions.
According to Mhango, a total of 6,000 people who recently arrived in the country are being followed up.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Health has written the Ministry of Education, requesting the latter to make available school blocks, classrooms and hostels to be used as Covid-19 isolation centres if need arises.
A letter from the Chief of Health Services, Doctor Charles Mwansambo, addressed to the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labour, Skills and Innovation says in the wake of the pandemic, there is need for isolation centres for suspected cases.
“There is a need for isolation centres across the country for suspected cases or cases not requiring admission as a public health measure to contain the pandemic,” reads part of the letter, which has been copied to all District Commissioners.
Mwansambo has stressed that district health and social welfare personnel as well as officials from the ministry will be available to give guidance on how the isolation centres will operate.
When contacted, Mwansambo told Malawi news that the ministry is just taking precautions.
“We have to get ourselves ready because the numbers maybe in tens, in thousands it may go beyond that so when it comes to the situation when we need more facilities that is when we will need these other places,” he said.
Health expert, George Jobe said if Covid-19 cases were to rise, then there will indeed be a need for additional isolation places but stressed that at the moment, government should continue using already established centres.
He has further advised health officials to make sure that the schools that will be used are not close to people’s homes.
“If it is away from the public that’s a little bit better, that will be much important,” Jobe said.
He further stressed on the need to disinfect the schools after the pandemic ends so as to make sure that there are no traces of the virus in the places to make them safe for learning.
Civil Society education Coalition Executive Director, Benenedicto Kondowe said using schools as isolation centres should be the last resort because the move has the potential to affect the revamping of the schools once the pandemic is over.
He is of the view that part of the current funds that have been set apart to fight the outbreak be used to erect temporary isolation facilities.
“History has it that if schools are used in times as such, even during elections, the school structures are not renovated,” he said.
Currently, there are over 1.5 million Covid-19 cases across the world, with over 90 thousand deaths.
Mathews Kasanda is a Journalist who has recently joined Times Group Newsroom as an Intern. He is an outstanding media practitioner and in 2014, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.