Minister of Information Mark Botomani says Malawi is lucky because the country’s Covid-19 patients have not needed ventilators, with the country having 20 ventilators.
Botomani made the remarks in response to concerns by Vice President Saulos Chilima that Malawi does not have enough ventilators to treat even 100 Covid-19 patients.
According to Botomani, over 20 ventilators are available in public hospitals.
“We are lucky that so far most of our patients have mild symptoms and do not need ventilators. Government, through UNICEF, is procuring more equipment for Covid-19 management. So far, there is no need for alarm,” he said.
On reliability of test kits, Botomani said all test kits and laboratory equipment in Malawi have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He added that all tests are done by qualified health care workers and the test kits that the country has at the moment are enough.
The minister also revealed that government has plans to increase testing centres.
“We are also working with Chancellor College and LUANAR to use their laboratories for testing. In addition, we will be calibrating our equipment used for testing TB to test Covid-19 in district hospitals,” he said.
During his press conference on Wednesday, Chilima asked the government designate idle state lodges as isolations centres and to channel K8 billion set aside for MEDF loans to the health sector. He also demanded that the Ministerial Committee on Coronavirus should receive allowances for work on Covid-19.
On isolation centres, Botomani said state lodges will not be turned into treatment centres but Government is preparing several places for this.
“The public will be delighted to know that the Malawi College of Health Sciences campus have already been earmarked in case of increases and this is also in alignment to the proximity of trained medical personnel,” he said.
Responding on the issue of MEDF loans, Botomani said the coronavirus could push millions of people into abject poverty hence the need for mitigation measures to cushion the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
He said the MEDF loans demonstrates government’s willingness to narrow the gap between the have and the have nots.
On allowance for members of cabinet committee on coronavirus, Botomani said ministers and their technical officers on the committee do not pocket any allowances despite even working at odd hours.
He said: These measures are meant to ensure that resources made available in curbing COVID 19 are channeled directly to the actual intervention measures.”
Malawi has recorded eight cases of the coronavirus and one death. On Wednesday, The Ministry of Health said the current modeling on the potential impact of the coronavirus shows that Malawi can be hit hard by the virus and the mortality can be up to 50,000 deaths without necessary interventions.