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Malawi prepares for Covid-19 amid challenges

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As thousands of people across the globe fall susceptible to Coronavirus, Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Dan Namarika has assured Malawians that government is keeping close watch on the issue.

He made the remarks during a visit to Dedza Border Post, which is gateway for those travelling to neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa or returning home.

“All our borders have port health office for monitoring of food items coming in the country and other disease surveillance, as well as quarantine centres in all borders and at airports. All our people have information but still need more training and they also have necessary tools for screening,” he said.

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Namarika however bemoaned the insufficient equipment for the fight against coronavirus at Dedza Border Post but promised that the challenge would be addressed to ensure that all other departments are well equipped.

He stressed that government has not yet banned entry of immigrants into the country.

“The first thing is that, as government, we have not closed our borders as guided by WHO [World Health Organisation] that you do not close border, because by closing the borders, it basically means pushing people out of the designated routes. So it is a deliberate policy not to encourage people coming through our borders using other illegal routes,” he said.

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Namarika then called for improved hygiene and sanitation amongst people working and running businesses within border posts, which he said can help combat the Coronavirus pandemic

A trader at Dedza Border Post, Joe Jali, said government needs to walk the talk in preparation for the deadly disease.

“Government needs to be serious because, from the look of things, the virus is spreading quickly…not long ago it was in China but right now we are hearing that it is in South Africa and on a daily basis hundreds of people travel to and from South Africa. We would have been happy, since the borders have not been closed, that everyone (with or without signs) should be screened to be double sure that those entering our country are safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malawi College of Medicine authorities say their laboratory will soon start testing for Coronavirus.

The College’s Principal, Mwapatsa Mipando, said they are just waiting for testing kits before they roll out.

He said the college now has its own clinic with 24 specialists, specifically to look into the virus.

“We have laboratories which we are developing. So far, one of them has the capacity to test for Coronavirus,” Mipando said.

College of Medicine enrolled its first students in 1991 with only 12 students. To date, it has produced 966 doctors.

Coronavirus was initially tracked to a seafood market in Hubei—which is home to Wuhan in China on December 31 2019.

By Saturday afternoon, it was estimated that the worldwide death toll from the Coronavirus pandemic was over 5,000, with about 140,000 cases recorded.

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