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Government shuts Salima Sugar Company

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Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has ordered Salima Sugar Company Limited to halt its operations for 21 days.

Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo confirmed the development Tuesday.

The order to halt operations follows reports that the sugar-maker had registered cases of the Covid double mutant.

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Tuesday alone, Malawi recorded 24 new positive Covid cases, of which 22 were from Salima.

In addition, the district recorded one Covid death Tuesday.

“Minister of Health directed the company to stop its operations for 21 days Tuesday. The positives [have been] put in isolation, contacts [are] in quarantine and the premises [have been] fumigated,” Mwansambo said.

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Salima Sugar Company Limited Company Secretary Charles Thupi confirmed that the firm halted operations yesterday evening.

Thupi said the firm had suspected coronavirus cases on site in Salima and had been advised to test everyone and put those that are coronavirus-positive on an institutional quarantine.

Last week, Kandodo Chiponda stormed Salima Sugar Company Limited premises and ordered mass testing and mandatory two-week quarantine for all India nationals working at the factory, following reports that some people who had recently arrived from India had tested positive for the novel coronavirus which could be a virulent double mutant detected in the Asian country.

During last week’s visit, the minister learnt that about 40 people from India had arrived in the country in four batches two weeks ago— through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe— with negative Covid certificates.

It further transpired that a laboratory technician at the factory, Jonathan Matipwili, had conducted tests on those people, with 16 of them coming out positive for the virus.

The company has about 4,500 workers.

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