The Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus says 111 people who came from countries affected by the COVID-19 are under self-isolation or quarantine in Malawi.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who heads the committee, said this in a statement released today.
According to Mhango, authorities have been screening for coronavirus in all travellers arriving in Malawi through the country’s international airports.
“We are following up for 14 days all travellers from China, Italy, France, Germany, Iran and South Korea. So far, as of yesterday, 9 March, 2020, we had in total followed up 233 people. 111 people are still under self-isolation or quarantine. No person has been found with the disease,” he said.
Mhango urged all individuals placed in self-isolation to fully comply with the instructions that are given by health personnel during the incubation period of 14 days.
He added that, as a policy strategy, government will continue to encourage self-isolation of individuals suspected of COVID-19 in order to minimize risk of spreading the virus in case of infection.
On measures taken by government to respond to the disease, Mhango said government has developed a costed preparedness plan and the budget for the plan is about MK2.4 billion.
He added that the Ministry of Health and Population has also put in place a mechanism for laboratory confirmation of the coronavirus in patients who may be suspected of the infection.
“Currently samples requiring test for COVID-19 are being sent to a WHO approved laboratory in South Africa,” Mhango said
He further said that the Ministry of Health is ensuring that hospitals have the capacity to manage patients suspected of coronavirus through training of health workers and provision of drugs and supplies.
According to Mhango, the Ministry is also using media channels to disseminate information to the general public about the outbreak and how to prevent or control it.
The coronavirus outbreak which begun in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China has spread to 101 countries across the world.
Over 105,000 cases of the disease have been confirmed cases and over 3,500 deaths have been reported globally.
While the number of new cases being reported in a day has been decreasing in China, the situation is getting worse in other countries like Italy, Germany, France, Iran and South Korea.
In Africa, countries that have reported cases are Algeria (17 cases), Egypt (48 cases), Senegal (4 cases), Cameroon (2 cases), Nigeria (1 case), Togo (1 case), Burkina Faso (2) and South Africa (7 cases).
Mhango noted that South Africa is of greater interest considering the amount of traffic with Malawi. He said the government is monitoring the situation in South Africa to see how the outbreak evolves.
“So far the outbreak is under control since the cases have only been reported among those people who came from Europe. There is no local transmission of the corona virus in South Africa,” he said.
Symptoms of the coronavirus infection include fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing
At present, there is no specific treatment nor vaccine for Corona virus is available. What hospitals can do is to support patients by relieving the symptoms while their bodies fight the infection. Most patients (about 98%) get well in the end if they are properly supported.
In the absence of effective treatment, people are being asked to avoid close contact with people who are sick and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Individuals are also being asked to wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.