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Covid-19 security lapses threaten Blantyre

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Joshua Malango

Security lapse at Kamuzu stadium, where about 400 people returning from South Africa are being hosted waiting for coronavirus test results, are putting lives of thousands of Malawians in the city of Blantyre at an increased risk of contracting the virus as the returnees are loitering uncontrolled.

Meanwhile, nine of the 17 people that were isolated from the South Africa group after testing positive for the coronavirus have escaped from the isolation centre at Kameza in Blantyre.

Despite heavy presence of police and health workers, some of the returnees who are Covid-19 suspects were lingering outside the stadium with some going as far as Chichiri Shopping Mall.

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However, Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, John Phuka, said he does not have details about the security lapse at the stadium because his committee receives reports from an operations team.

Phuka said the returnees were moved to Kamuzu Stadium because the task force was facing challenges of space and amenities like toilets at Mwanza border.

“Looking at the numbers which is around 400, we needed to shift to a better environment where matters of social distancing for instance could easily be observed. You appreciate that this is a public health issue and as much as we can, we want to avoid public contact,” Phuka said.

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Commenting on the security lapse, Southern Region police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani said those that were seen outside had clearance to be there. He, however, stressed that the police is working hand in hand with health officials and the Immigration Department to ensure that the stadium is well secured.

On the nine suspects who escaped from Kameza Isolation Centre on Monday night, our source, who opted for anonymity, said the escapees threatened to manhandle the health personnel on duty, alleging that their results were falsified.

Blantyre District Council Director of Health and Social Services, Gift Kawalazira, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview, saying efforts are underway to trace the escapees.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Joshua Malango has said government will soon introduce testing services at all border posts to reduce waiting time.

Since the first case was registered on April 2, Covid-19 cases have soared in Malawi to 101, with four people losing their lives.

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