Parliamentary committee on health has called on Malawians to be alert and take preventative measures against a possible coronavirus outbreak which is wreaking havoc in Asia.
The committee said this in a statement signed by its chairperson Matthews Ngwale.
“The committee appreciates technical support from World Health Organisation to ensure that Malawi adopts right standards for prevention, detection and referral for treatment of suspected cases,” the statement reads.
The statement alerts the general public that coronaviruses can be spread through coughing and sneezing, shaking hands with a person that has the virus and although rarely, through contact with infected feaces.
And Monday, Minister of Health, Jappie Mhango, made a ministerial address assuring the nation that Malawi is ready to prevent the spread of the virus in all entry and exit points.
“This is an emergency and should be treated as such. We are in touch with the Ministry of Finance to make available resources to fight the virus,” he said, adding that the ministry has adequate personnel and quarantine facilities to control the spread of the virus.
The virus has so far claimed lives of 900 people in China.
Mhango, however, fell short of quantifying the supplies the country has for the fight.
On students reportedly trapped in virus hotspots in China, Mhango said two of them have been repatriated back and were quarantined in facilities in the country’s entry points.
He said the students are being confined to their rooms where they are being provided food as safely as possible.
“We had a meeting with the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday where they assured us of the safety of our students. They are being given food in their hotels and the process is being monitored by the Malawi Embassy in China. We have not considered evacuating them just yet because of the assurances we have received,” Mhango said.
Members of Parliament asked Mhango to consider an outright ban on travels to and from an China as a definite way of containing the virus, a suggestion Mhango shot down.
“We are not an island. We will have to adhere to what is happening internationally. If the situation becomes that dire, they will communicate,” he said.
“In collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Malawi, the ministry is advising Malawians to as much as possible avoid travelling to China until the outbreak is controlled. The Chinese Embassy in Malawi is advising its nationals in China not to travel to Malawi until the outbreak is controlled.”
Chikwawa Mkombezi MP, Abida Mia, expressed worry over the quality of screening at the country’s airports and border posts.
Coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, is rapidly evolving and has now spread to almost all provinces in China and to other 24 countries in Asia, Australia, Europe and America.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They are common among animals worldwide but a few of them are known to affect human beings.
Those that infect people usually only cause mild respiratory diseases such as the common cold.