Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid Dr Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma has disclosed that 14 out of 87 samples that were sent to South Africa for gene sequencing show that they have the variant of coronavirus which was first discovered in India.
“People should understand that it’s not only this variant which is in circulation across the world. The other samples from the 87 show that they have the variant which we had in the first place,” he said.
Chalamira Nkhoma said most of the samples with the variant of the virus first identified in India were from the samples collected at Salima Sugar Factory.
Last month, government closed Salima Sugar Factory after it transpired that some of the 60 Indians working at the factory tested positive for coronavirus.
“This is not surprising because the reason we closed the factory was that there came people from India and some of them tested positive for coronavirus. We then tested everyone working there and we found few more,” he said.
Nkhoma said the government may have a local focus point close to Salima Sugar Factory to ensure that everyone suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus will be quarantined and isolated.
Nkhoma said the government banned non-essential travellers from risky countries, including India and Bangladesh, adding that they had stopped providing escort services to busses carrying Malawians from South Africa.
“For some reason, this continued for weeks and many busses were coming, carrying more than 800 Malawians per day. We are saying this arrangement does not make sense anymore and effective yesterday [Tuesday], the government has stopped this escort,” he said.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said this calls for increased vigilance and surveillance from the general public and government in the fight against the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the second phase of the Covid vaccination exercise starts today.