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Only 11% of Malawians wash hands with soap

As the coronavirus disease continues to spread across the world like raging fire, latest figures have shown that only 11 percent of Malawians wash hands with soap.

National Programme Manager for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) in the Ministry of Health, Holystone Kafanikhale, disclosed this in Lilongwe where he made a presentation during a stakeholders’ interaction with the media organised by Water and Environmental Sanitation Network (Wesnet).

Kafanikhale said basic latrine coverage in Malawi was recorded at 86.7 percent, adding that the percentage using improved latrine is at 40.6 percent.

According to Kafanikhale, the percentage of households using hand washing facilities is 36.2 percent.

“This poses a serious challenge when it comes to preventing coronavirus because preventing the epidemic requires washing hands regularly.

“Malawians do not have a culture of washing hands. Normally, we wash hands when we want to eat nsima. Otherwise, you will see people coming out of a toilet and not washing hands,” Kafanikhale said.

He said the government has come up with initiatives to encourage Malawians to develop a culture of washing hands.

World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that people regularly and thoroughly clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It is believed that washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be in people’s hands.

WHO also recommends on its website that people maintain at least a one-metre distance between them and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

“When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease,” WHO says.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 395,579 cases of coronavirus had been recorded across the world with 17,234 deaths. A total of 103,732 are believed to have recovered from the virus.

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