REMARKS BY JAPPIE MHANGO, CHAIRPERSON OF THE SPECIAL CABINET COMMITTEE ON COVID-19, ON MALAWI’S FOURTH CONFIRMED CASE
As you recall, on 30th March 2020, the President, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, declared coronavirus a National Disaster and only 2 days ago, His Excellency announced to the nation that Malawi has recorded its first 3 confirmed cases of coronavirus all of them from a single household in Lilongwe, I wish to inform you that we have another confirmed case in Blantyre.
This patient recently returned from the UK and was in self-quarantine. Tests were done yesterday at the College of Medicine laboratory where it was confirmed that the results are positive. With this new case, Malawi now has 4 new cases of coronavirus and we can confirm local transmission based on the initial three cases from Lilongwe. All these 4 cases have mild disease
Fellow Malawians, it is very clear that we are at war with the disease and therefore we all need to work together to contain the virus. The Special Cabinet Committee on coronavirus has been regularly meeting to monitor and give guidance on Government interventions to prevent and contain the disease. Government is now intensifying measures to contain the disease by among other things
1. Ensuring contact tracing on all those individuals that came into contact with the confirmed cases
2. Provision of testing services to all suspected cases
3. Increasing surveillance on coronavirus
4. Enforcing measures on social distancing
5. Enforcing hand-washing in all communities
6. Provision of Personal Protective Equipment to all personnel who are at risk of contracting the disease especially health care workers.
The Ministry of Health knows that coronavirus realises that there is shortage of health care workers and therefore working on
1. Increasing the funding allocation to the staff to be recruited now
2. fast tracking the recruitment process for health care workers.
Various ministries and govt departments and councils have developed guidelines and by-laws to contain the virus. In fact Opinion leaders (Traditional Leaders including all Paramount Chiefs, Religious leaders), District Commissioners and Directors of Health and Social Services in the districts have been oriented on coronavirus. Govt also engaged the Private Sector to discuss the impact of coronavirus and how the sector can contribute to the fight against the disease
1. In infrastructure, all district hospitals have reserved rooms and spaces for treatment of confirmed cases that have moderate and severe disease
2. Works on other existing treatment sites has started now that we have funding for all the 10 sites in some of our border districts and central hospitals
3. Training for health care workers and community health workers is currently underway
4. Govt has repaired ventilators in our central hospitals and has provided an additional 20 new ventilators into our treatment sites
5. Govt has more than 20,000 test kits that were donated by Jack Ma and are currently being used at CHSU and College of Medicine and Liverpool Welcome Trust laboratories. Govt, through UNICEF, is procuring another 5000 test kits to be delivered within a month. Take note that all our test kits have met the standards defined by WHO and CDC and our machines and protocol also meet the set standards. In fact, we have been confirming the initial results with NICD in South Africa
6. Ministry of Health is finalising guidelines on the use of GenExpert machines to ensure that testing is available in all district hospitals
7. Through UNICEF, Personal Protective Equipment is being procured for all health care workers. Priority is given to local suppliers, who meet the required standards.
8. Risk communication is currently being done through the Health Education Unit where posters, jingles, leaflets etc have been developed.
9. The MOH has developed an application which will be used to ensure that we are able to track patients and suspects to ensure compliance to guidelines.
Take note that the ministry has received technical and material support from WHO plus UN Family and CDC, financial support from DFID, HSJF, the governments of Norway and Germany, GAVI, The Global Fund and other development partners.
Again local organisations and companies have contributed to the fight – including messaging through our radio and TV stations, Mobile phone companies such as Airtel (including Airtel support to the Chipatala Cha Pa Foni).
Take note that we have noted that the Chipatala Cha Pa Foni has been overwhelmed by phone calls and the ministry is working on increasing the capacity and personnel to improve the situation
Finally, govt is committed to ensure that coronavirus is contained in Malawi and will do everything possible together with all its partners to win the fight.
I thank you all