Written by Kondwani Magombo
Mangochi, March 27, 2020:Mangochi district and town councils say have pledged vigilance in COVID-19 surveillance as more Malawians return home from South Africa following the lockdown that President Cyril Ramaphosa declared earlier in the week.
Mangochi District Commissioner, Reverend Moses Chimphepo, made the pledge on Wednesday when the Mangochi District Health Office (DHO) rolled out a K13.4m COVID-19 Response Plan to run from March up to June, 2020.
Chimphepo described Mangochi district as one of the few districts in the country with the highest population trekking to and from South Africa hence the need for the district authorities to step up measures to prevent spreading of the Corona virus.
“Mangochi and South Africa are more or less like neighbours when it comes to our people traveling to and fro South Africa for economic activities; so if we don’t step up our measures then it will be tragic,” said Chimphepo.
He appealed to people in Mangochi to take the precautionary measures that government has put in place seriously and to make sure that their returning relatives and loved ones go in quarantine for the recommended period before they interact with other people.
“Corona virus is real and it is currently a global challenge: there are measures that are at national, district, community, household and individual levels which we ought to abide by to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from contracting the disease,” said Chimphepo.
The DC urged all public and private institutions, offices, shops, prayer houses and all other business places to have hand-washing apparatuses and soap at the entrances or any convenient places for people to wash their hands before entering.
He also encouraged similar practices at homes and that people should avoid handshakes and they should maintain social distance when holding meetings.
Mangochi Police Officer In-Charge, Dr. Joseph Mutupha, and Chief Preventive Health Officer for the district Hospital, Dr. Kondwani Mamba, concurred with Chimphepo saying their offices will ensure that all border posts and road blocks in the district are well managed as regards to COVID-19.
Mamba said the hospital has already trained and sent teams of health surveillance assistants and clinical officers to the borders, including Chiponde, to help in the screening of people entering the country.
“We are, indeed, receiving people returning home mainly from South Africa and we are putting them on surveillance: we currently have five people whom we are monitoring and we are glad that they are cooperative,” explained Mamba.
On the other hand, Mutupha said with many people returning home due to the lockdown in South Africa, his office will enhance compliance of the measures as laid down by the authorities.
The launched COVID-19 Response Plan seeks to strengthen overall coordination among the district’s stakeholders to ensure effective technical support, resource and social mobilization for early detection of the disease; awareness and community mobilization towards prevention of the disease, among other things.