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UN, others scale up Covid-19 response

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The United Nations (UN) and its partners have stepped up efforts to fight Covid-19 in Malawi and protect the country’s 18 million people.

The development comes as the country has so far recorded over 1,600 confirmed cases of which 17 have died.

In a statement released on Friday, the UN says time is of the essence for the newly elected government to lead a one-country approach to the pandemic.

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UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said the virus is a threat to all of humanity regardless of nationality, ethnicity, faith, gender, age, tribe, political affiliation or any other status.

“Despite these enormous efforts, more needs to be done to keep everyone safe from Covid-19 and help those hardest hit by the socio-economic effects of the pandemic in Malawi,” Torres said.

According to the statement, since March, a risk communication and community engagement campaign has regularly reached more than 15 million people with support from UN and its partners.

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The UN says messages have been broadcast by media houses, including community radio stations, with the active involvement of Malawian artists, the faith community, traditional authorities, the academia, Parliament, political parties and the teaching community.

To control the spread of the virus, testing, contact tracing and quarantine of contacts or suspected cases and isolation of confirmed cases have been essential.

The UN says with its support, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Malawi has moved from zero testing capacity to having 41 Covid-19 testing centres, which have since conducted more than 14,500 tests.

It adds that more than 4.8 million units of essential supplies for fighting the pandemic have been mobilised, including testing kits and personal protective equipment for health workers and other frontline service providers.

The statement says the UN’s support to coordinate all supplies has helped to get the supplies faster as global supplies are under much demand.

“The UN and partners have stepped up efforts to ensure no one is left behind and jobs are protected, through a social protection scheme that stands to benefit up to 850,000 vulnerable households in urban and rural settings.

“Also, more than 700 community protection workers and women rights promoters are dealing with cases of violence against children, women, adolescent girls and persons with albinism.

“Refugees and migrants are another vulnerable group the UN is supporting in the response. The role of Malawian youth as ‘change agents’ in mitigating the impact of Covid-19 as well as ‘building back better’ is also part of the response,” the statement says.

According to the UN, the government of Malawi has requested more than $345 million through its National Prevention and Response Plan as well as the Emergency Appeal to respond to Covid-19, of which 43 percent has been mobilised so far.

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