Villagers attack health workers during burial of Covid-19 victim


Villagers in Nkhotakota on Wednesday pelted stones at health personnel during the burial of a woman who died of COVID-19 in the district.

The commotion erupted at Jabu graveyard in Phangwa Village in Nkhotakota

Malawi New Agency (MANA) reported that at around 4 pm, the health personnel from the district hospital arrived at the graveyard for the burial.

More than 70 villagers flocked to the scene and some women were seen shouting at the health officials accusing them of faking the death report that the woman died of COVID-19.

The villagers claimed that the victim had been going around hospitals with other complications for three years. They also claimed that 0n Saturday last week, she was admitted to St. Anne’s Hospital with same those complications.

Soon after the burial, health officials boarded their vehicles and sped off for their dear lives as angry community members started pelting stones at the ambulance and another vehicle that the health officials used.

In a telephone interview, Director of Health and Social Services, Wezzie Mumba confirmed that Nkhotakota District has registered its first COVID-19 death of a woman.

Villagers and health personnel during the incident

She said the deceased was a Nkhotakota resident who was tested positive at St. Annes Hospital on Tuesday, but could not comment on what happened at the graveyard during the burial, saying she was not part of the team that went to the village.

District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO), Chandiwira Jere, who was part of the burial team said: “Some women started chanting songs and some threw stones at our vehicle as we started off.

“If I heard them properly, they were thinking that the health personnel lied to them that the deceased died of COVOD-19,” he said.

A health worker who was part of the team said the attack from community members is one of the challenges health workers in the country are facing.

“This is just one of the harsh realities health workers are facing every day. Angry community members, high risk exposure to the virus due to lack of PPE, but still getting the work done,” wrote [email protected] on Twitter.

The district hospital Public Relations Officer, Macdonald Chembedzi, told MANA that no health official was hurt during the fracas, but the windscreen of the ambulance was heavily smashed.

A cousin to the deceased, Precious Rabson who tried to calm the situation, said the community members were against the procedure of the hospital personnel to have the body buried without traditional arrangements and faking COVID-19 results.

Nkhotakota has so far registered 35 COVID-19 cases with nine recoveries and one death. In Malawi, a total of 3981 cases have been recorded.