There is no coronavirus (Covid-19) case in Blantyre, a senior health officer assured last evening.
Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) Director of Health and Social Services, Dr Gift Kawalazira, released the statement to quell rumours that had emerged after a 21-year-old lady had, on arrival from China on Saturday, complained of chest tightness.
“On Sunday, she presented with chest tightness and difficult breathing for one day but had no cough, no sneezing and no fever. The suspect has similar signs and symptoms while in China and was diagnised as panic attack and was reassured that it is not Covid-19. Serial temperatures were taken while in China and was normal for two weeks,” Kawalazira said in the statement.
“The lady went to Mwaiwathu [Private Hospital] on Sunday the 8th March due to the chest tightness and upon arrival, her mother called one of DHO medical staff who advised them not to alight from the vehicle. The suspect was later taken for isolation at the quarantine for further investigation. Take note that the preliminary investigation done so far does NOT point towards coronavirus.”
He assured that they are screening all people that are travelling from China.
“This has been happening since the beginning of the outbreak. Also take note that all people coming from these countries and are not showing any signs and symptoms are advised on self-quarantine,” Kawalazira said.
Over the weekend, President Peter Mutharika directed the formation of a Special Cabinet Committee of Covid-19 to provide a national response to the outbreak of the disease which is spreading fast across the world.
A statement from Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, says Health and Population Minister Jappie Mhango is heading the committee which comprises his counterparts for Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events (Everton Chimulirenji), Finance, Economic Planning and Development (Joseph Mwanamvekha), Education, Science and Technology (William Susuwele Banda), Industry, Trade and Tourism (Salim Bagus), Foreign Affairs and International Corporation (Francis Kasaila), Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (Kondwani Nankhumwa), Homeland Security (Nicholas Dausi) and Deputy Minister of Defence (Chipiliro Mpinganjira.
“The objective of setting up the Special Committee on Coronavirus threat is to assess the impact of the Covid-19 and oversee a cross-government response to the threat posed by Covid-19,” Muhara says in the statement dated March 7 2020.
In an interview, Mhango said each minister in the committee would have the full backing of technocrats during discussions on how to manage the threat of the virus and that terms of references would be discussed during a first meeting.
Coronavirus started two months ago in Chinese City of Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease which has killed more than 3,500 people across the world. The disease has since spread to South Africa and Zimbabwe, among other African countries.