The Malawi Government has advised citizens to avoid travelling to China and other countries affected by the coronavirus but has said it not will apply any travel or trade restrictions because of the outbreak.
Minister of Health and Population Jappie Mhango said this in a statement delivered in Parliament today.
Mhango said the ministry is following World Health Organization guidelines which currently does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions.
“However, my advice to Malawians is to avoid none essential travel to countries severely affected by the outbreak, at the moment,” he said.
He added that the ministry is implementing several activities to ensure that the Coronavirus should not be transmitted to Malawi and to prepare the country to handle any case should a Coronavirus case be diagnosed.
Mhango mentioned weekly health cluster meetings to discuss on how to prepare and respond to the Coronavirus outbreak.
He said a preparedness plan has been prepared, messages are being developed and the ministry is working with the Chinese Embassy in Malawi to advise Chinese nationals in China not to travel to Malawi until the outbreak is controlled.
“We are screening for Coronavirus in all travellers arriving in Malawi through our International Airports.
“We are following up for 14 days all travellers from China into Malawi,” he said.
According to Mhango, the Ministry has also put in place a mechanism for laboratory confirmation of the Coronavirus in patients who may be suspected of the infection.
He said 15 laboratories in the world have been identified by WHO to provide testing for Coronavirus and only 2 are in Africa – in Senegal and in South Africa.
He further said that ministry is ensuring that the country’s hospitals have the capacity to manage patients suspected of Coronavirus through training of health workers and provision of drugs and supplies.
The novel coronavirus was first reported in China last year and its symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing,
At present, no specific treatment nor vaccine for Coronavirus is available and hospitals support patients by relieving the symptoms while their bodies fight the infection.
On 30th January, 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
In China, 40,171 cases have been confirmed while 187,518 people are under observation.
So far, 908 have died in China as a result of the outbreak.