Government relaxes travellers’ Covid requirements
By Mathews Kasanda & Brenda Kayo:
The Ministry of Health has suspended a requirement for all incoming travellers to produce paper-based health declaration forms upon arrival in the county.
In his communication to Chileka and Kamuzu international airports and all ports of entry, Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo has said the decision is based on the reduction of Covid cases globally.
“It is no longer a requirement for travellers coming to Malawi to complete health declaration forms upon arrival at the point of entry,” Mwansambo said.
He added that government is now in the process of developing a digital system of collecting travellers’ health information.
According to Mwansambo, the new system will be for all emerging and re-emerging diseases and not on Covid alone as has been the case.
Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe has welcomed the easing up of health requirements and challenged authorities to speed up the development of the digital system of collecting health information.
“We do not know about the future of Covid. The numbers might start rising again and there are other health conditions which we must not forget. We still need to be keeping track of travellers’ records,” Jobe said.
Meanwhile, Co- Chairperson for the Presidential Taskforce on Covid and Cholera, Wilson Chalamira Nkhoma, has described as unfortunate the fact that about 13.3 million people in the country have not received Covid vaccines.
Nkhoma fears the laxity could result in an increase in the number of cases.
He said in an interview that 35 new cases have been recorded in the country from February 6 to 12 this year.
“Adults have continued to receive the J&J vaccine, the only vaccine available in the country, but at a low pace. Only 23,721 doses were received from February 6 to 15, bringing the total number of people fully vaccinated to 3.5 million,” Nkhoma said.
He also disclosed that vaccines for children have not yet arrived in the country. The doses that are being administered are only for those aged 18 and above.
Malawi Red Cross Society recently indicated that it had embarked on an assignment to scale up its efforts to demystify Covid vaccines.
According to the Ministry of Health, 88,594 cases have been recorded in the country, out of which 2,684 have died.
Globally, 674 million cases and 8.86 million deaths related to the infectious disease have been recorded.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.