Data from the Public Health Institute of Malawi (Phim) shows that coronavirus deaths in the country have gone down in the past seven days, raising hope that the country can win the fight against the pandemic.
In a report covering August 9 to 15, Phim says Malawi registered 14 new deaths, representing two less than the seven-day period between July 5 and 11 when the country recorded 16 Covid-19-related deaths.
During the recent review period (August 9 to 15), Phim also reported that the country registered 402 new coronavirus cases. The report said this was the lowest number since the period between June 28 and July 4.
Between July 5 and 11, Malawi registered 16 deaths and 648 new cases while during the period between July 12 and 18, Covid-19 deaths stood at 26 while 646 new cases were recorded.
During the period between July 26 and August 1 Covid-19 deaths started to decrease as the country registered 26 new deaths with 624 new cases, then 23 deaths and 438 new cases between August 2 and 8 and last week’s 14 deaths and 402 new cases.
From June 28 to August 8 2020, the country registered 130 deaths, an average of about 22 coronavirus-related deaths weekly. The period also recorded 3 613 new Covid-19 cases, an average of 602 new cases per week and 2 055 new recoveries, representing an average of 343 recoveries per week.
In an interview last week, epidemiologist Titus Divala observed that everyone wants to see a downward trend as it would signal the end of the worst.
But he said before making such conclusions, people should ensure accurate reporting of deaths and cases.
Said Divala: “Accurate reporting of deaths requires a system that collects deaths from those who die already confirmed Covid-19 positive and testing those who die with symptoms resembling the disease or if resources allow, every death.
“We have not been testing as many people as we used to before and in the process, we may have missed some cases that progressed to die.”
The medical doctor observed that at the start of the epidemic in the country, cases were concentrated in urban areas, but were now spread to rural areas where testing and reporting of deaths was already a challenge. He feared that some people could be dying of coronavirus without being tested.
Said Divala: “Just to add context and importance, in Malawi, 80 percent of deaths happen in the community, not at the hospital.
“Ascertaining involvement of Covid-19 in these deaths may require two difficult things: Reporting to the health system that a death has occurred and the health system quickly mobilising and getting to the village to examine the body before burial.”
In a separate interview, health rights activist George Jobe, who is executive director of Malawi Health Equity Network, said the downward trend in recorded Covid-19-related deaths raised hope that Malawi can win the fight against the global pandemic.
He attributed the decline to efforts put in place by both government and the private sector to prevent the further spread of the pandemic.
Jobe said he believed the spread of the pandemic was being contained slowly, not only in Malawi but in the region as a whole with 98 percent of Malawians who returned from South Africa last week testing negative.
He said: “At Nalikule TTC [teacher training college], only one out of 86 tested positive, three out of 153 returnees tested positive at Domasi TTC and only five out of 188 tested at Machinga TTC were positive.”
In a separate interview, one of the people who have recovered from Covid-19, Luke Chimwaza, said he believed that the number of coronavirus-related deaths was declining because people have now accepted that Covid-19 is real and are no longer stigmatised because of the pandemic.
Chimwaza, who is a journalist at Radio Maria, said most Covid-19 patients were now following coronavirus preventive measures and advice from health personnel.