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Covid-19: Malawi on high alert

Joshua Malango

While the alarm keeps going off in countries that have so far been affected by Coronavirus, major referral hospitals in Malawi have started putting in place measures to control possible outbreak of the disease, random checks have shown.

Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), for example, is limiting the number of guardians to one per patient while visitors’ hours have been suspended in some wards.

“We have been told that the visitors’ hour has been suspended,” said a security guard at one of the wards.

The hospital’s Director Dr Samson Mndolo’s mobile phone could not be reached for a comment while the Deputy Director Dr Linley Chewere was yet to respond our questions sent to her mobile phone.

But Kamuzu Central Hospital Public Relations Officer, Chiyanjano Kazombo, said the hospital has put in place measures to contain any possible outbreak.

“For now, we have set aside our skin department as the Coronavirus Treatment Centre but we are still discussing on further measures to put in place,” she said.

Mzuzu Central Hospital Public Relations Officer, Arnold Kayira, said they also have a place ready to keep coronavirus patients in isolation in case of any.

He said they have not yet started controlling traffic to the hospital as they are waiting for official communication from the government.

“Of course, we have been maintaining the policy of one guardian per patient all along due to limited space and we are continuing with that. On controlling traffic during visitors’ hour, we will wait for official communication from the government,” Kayira said.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, on Sunday insisted that no referral hospital is preventing people from visiting patients during scheduled hours.

Contacted again yesterday after The Daily Times reporter was stopped from visiting some of the awards at QECH, Malango asked for more time before commenting.

Meanwhile, the government of neighbouring Tanzania has confirmed a coronavirus case.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), common signs of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

WHO says one can significantly reduce the risk of the infection by cleaning hands frequently, covering nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Coronavirus, which started in China a few months ago, has so far infected 169,000 people killing over 6,500.

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