The use of uncharted routes challenging the fight against COVID-19 in Mangochi

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Health and Immigration sectors in Mangochi say use of uncharted routes by Malawians returning home from other countries is undermining the fight against Coronavirus in the district.

District Medical Officer for Mangochi District Hospital, Dr Chimwemwe Thambo and Regional Immigration Officer for the East, Vivian Kasambo, sounded the concern over the weekend in separate occasions.

Addressing Mangochi Town Council and stakeholders on the pandemic, Dr Thambo said the district health office was working closely with the Department of Immigration and owners of buses which travel between Malawi and South Africa to trace all Malawians returning home accordingly.

He said there was good collaboration so far with the bus owners but in the wake of the lockdown in South Africa, there were reports of some Malawians returning home using uncharted routes.

“My appeal is that we should sensitise members of the community across the district to remain vigilant in ensuring that their relatives and loved ones returning home from South Africa or any country that is affected by COVID-19 should be closely monitored and quarantined if need be,” explained Thambo.

He added: “We’re not being too harsh on them or discriminating them; it is for the good of the family members, the community, the district and Malawi in general.”

The DMO added that there was also a need for the masses to be sensitised on the meaning and essence of quarantine, citing an incident at Cape Maclear which led to a false alarm in the community.

“In Cape Maclear, someone who returned from the US had quarantined himself at home following the advice he received from authorities upon arrival at the airport.

“People in the area then went around spreading false information that he was a COVID-19 positive case,” explained Thambo.

He said a medical team was deployed to the scene where they learned that the man was simply complying with the authorities’ advice and that he was not seeing friends and relatives.

On the other hand, Regional Immigration Officer for the East, Vivian Kasambo, told journalists his department had tightened checks in all the borders such as Katuli and Chiponde.

Kasambo also said his department was working hand in hand with the Health Sector to enforce the quarantine of Malawians entering the country from other countries affected by the Coronavirus.

“We are very vigilant to make sure that we don’t import this virus into the country and we are coordinating well with the Health Sector in a number of areas, including following up on quarantine and self-isolation cases,” explained Kasambo.

He appealed to people in Mangochi to show patriotism to the country by ensuring that issues of quarantine and self-isolation are adhered to.

“This is the time we should show patriotism to the country; let’s tell our relatives and loved ones who come from South Africa to follow procedures put in place by the government to fight this virus,” explained Kasambo.

Mangochi is one of the districts where Malawians flock to and fro South Africa and there are hundreds of Malawians from Mangochi living in South Africa.

Meanwhile, five people are on surveillance in the district due to their travel history and, according to the district hospital, the five are cooperative.

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