Malawi has confirmed that the fourth wave has hit the country and authorities have called for steady application and adherence of Covid-19 preventive measures.
Health experts are worried that being the festive season, the general populace, merry makers and politicians have abandoned their responsibilities, as the country is seeing many musical shows and political gatherings with few people putting on masks.
Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda has said the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, which she co-chairs, will meet tomorrow to get a report from doctors and devise new preventive measures
In an interview, Physicians Assistants Union of Malawi president Solomon Chomba decried the actions, saying the new variant, Omicron, is fast spreading.
He said: “If we had achieved herd immunity through vaccination, this could not have been a problem. With this steady increase in new cases of Covid-19 and the confirmation of the new Omicron variant, I would surely say that we are in the fourth wave.”
“Additionally, if all Covid-19 precautionary measures are adhered to in all such gatherings the story could have been different. However, with our situation in Malawi, the condition will further spread the variant due to poor adherence to Covid-19 precautionary measures.”
Epidemiologist Titus Divala said the rising Covid-19 cases in Malawi and the entire Southern African Development Community is a sign that people have to start being reserved in their daily life to minimise spread of the virus,
“The earlier we start observing restrictions the better. Considering the experience we have with the disease as a people, observing restrictions should be a matter of self-responsibility and common sense,” he said.
Divala urged authorities to ensure that oxygen plants and broader oxygen access are organised and that health facilities have adequate needs, including staff, personal protective equipment, diagnostics and other medical supplies.
On his part, Community Health Ambassador Maziko Matemba condemned politicians for their lackluster approach to the pandemic, saying, they were sending wrong signals to the citizenry on the matter.
In a separate interview, Kandodo-Chiponda admitted the laxity among many sectors of society, but said they will meet on Wednesday to map the way forward.
She said: “We are already in the fourth wave, only that it is at alert level one. We have seen the positivity rate increase, and we don’t need a repeat of last year. So on Wednesday we will get a report from our doctors and map the way forward.
“We also wanted to open up the economy a bit after a turbulent period, but we cannot continue doing that at the expense of the lives of Malawians. So, after Wednesday, we will announce the new measures.”
Ironically, Kandodo-Chiponda was among Cabinet ministers and Malawi Congress Party officials who on Saturday addressed a mass political rally at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe amid public fears of the event being a superspreader of Covid-19. There were few people wearing face masks let alone regularly using hand sanitisers or washing hands with soap. Social distancing was also non-existent.
Since announcement of the presence of the Omicron virus in the country, figures on the virus have started rising, rekindling memories of 2020 festivities.
From 59 cases on Friday, the cases shot to 83 on Saturday and moved downwards to 35 on Sunday. As cases soar, life continues as usual, with musical shows and political rallies on course.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 62 265 cases, including 2 308 deaths (Case Fatality Rate is at 3.71 percent. Of these cases, 2 732 are imported infections and 59 533 are locally transmitted.