Funerals, churches, family gatherings acting as super spreaders – Dr Phuka

Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus Dr. John Phuka has reminded people to adjust their way of life in order to curb the spread Coronavirus, saying funerals, churches, bars and family gatherings are acting as super spreaders.

In a statement on Monday, Phuka also mentioned markets, public transport, workplaces and group sports.

He said the taskforce has observed that in some situations, many people have become sick with COVID-19 after attending a funeral service.

Phuka urged people to take precautions when attending funerals, whether the funeral is COVID-19 related or not, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities.

According to Phuka, changes need to be made to the way funerals, visitations, and memorials to the deceased are held.

He said there is a need to limit the duration of the funeral ceremonies, the number of people attending the actual ceremony and the night vigils have to restricted to the family members.

He added that all people should wear masks properly as the masks reduce the chances of getting and spreading COVID-19, particularly if social distancing cannot be maintained.

“It is hard and part of our culture but we have to adjust and change our norms for us to win this war against COVID-19. It is my appeal to the local and religious leaders to take heed on this important message and adjust accordingly. It is everyone’s responsibility to reduce the spread of the disease in our country.

Malawi has seen a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases over the past three weeks with over 12,000 cases and more than 300 deaths reported since New Year’s Day.

The rise in cases which experts say is a second wave has been attributed to the laxity in observing prevention measures in December when the country was reporting few daily cases

“Remember in July 2020 when one could not enter a bank, shop etc. without washing hands or wearing a mask. By December most of these measures were not being implemented and people had taken the attitude that COVID was gone. This meant people were freely interacting without implementing COVID measures of handwashing, social distancing or mask wearing,” said Dr Bridget Malewezi on her Facebook Page.