Statement by Minister of Health announcing change from Level 2 to 1 on COVID Response on 8 Oct 2021
11 October 2021
It is worth pointing out that there is also a corresponding decline in the level of the epidemic in our neighboring countries and in the rest of the region
Good Afternoon, and welcome to this press conference that has been called to update you members of the press, and all Malawians, on the status of the corona virus pandemic in the country, and the steps that have been agreed upon by the taskforce at its recent meeting.
As has been communicated several times before, the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus, working with the Emergency Operation Centre on COVID-19 (EOC), continues to closely monitor the trend of the pandemic in the country. And available data indicates that since the end of August, we continue to observe a downward trend in the number of new COVD-19 cases, those admitted to treatment units, those passing away from the disease and the proportion of those testing positive for the virus, the positivity rate.
On COVID-19 statistics, as of 7th October 2021, Malawi has recorded a total of 61,648 cases including 2,287 deaths, giving us a Case Fatality Ratio of 3.71%. Of these cases, 58,992 (95.7%) were locally transmitted. Cumulatively, 56,208 cases have now recovered (recovery rate of 91.2%).
Currently, there are 2,921 active cases, 15 of which are hospitalized in our treatment units across the country. Let me point out at this stage that we are observing that the majority of those with severe disease and those dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated. The country has been recording a positivity rate of below 10% since 28th August and less than 5% from 20thSeptember to date, and the seven-day moving average is at 2% as of 7thOctober 2021.
It is worth pointing out that there is also a corresponding decline in the level of the epidemic in our neighboring countries and in the rest of the region.
Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, as of 7th October 2021, a total of 1,092,540 vaccine doses had been administered in the country and cumulatively, 503,916 people were fully vaccinated.
I have therefore called this press conference to announce that on the basis of the available data, we are now at level 1 of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country as classified in the Public Health (Corona Virus and COVID-19) (Prevention, Containment and Management) (Amendment) (No3) Rules, 2021.
This is good news, and the positive strides can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of all Malawians towards the fight.
Distinguished members of the press, Ladies and Gentlemen, at this level, just like at all other levels, there are a number of measures that are supposed to be observed and reinforced. And I call upon all of you in the media to help communicate these measures to the public so that we can continue to keep the pandemic in check.
I must emphasize that our behaviours in the COVID-19 fight are key to success or failure, as we have observed that as more people relax in adhering to the recommended preventive and containment measures, such as travel, failure to mask and to adhere to physical distancing policies, the more we have been recording an increased number of new cases, those admitted in treatment units and those dying from the disease. And this has been true during the past three waves of the pandemic in our country. Now that the cases are declining, we need to continue to adhere to the preventive and containment measures in order to reduce further and stop the spread of the virus amidst us to avoid further disruptions to our social and economic lives due to the pandemic.
At a general level, we need to strictly adhere to the proper wearing of masks, observing physical/social distancing and stepping up our handwashing practices and getting vaccinated for those that are aged 18 years and above. The vaccine, let me emphasize, is the best tool we have to help in reducing the risk of developing severe disease, risk of hospitalization and deaths due to COVID-19 while the other preventive measures will help to prevent spread of, and contracting the virus. Let me inform the nation that we have adequate stocks of COVID-19 vaccines in all our vaccination sites and let me appeal to those that have received a single dose of AstraZeneca and are due for the second dose to get their second dose so that they are fully vaccinated, and those that have never received any COVID-19 vaccine to utilize the opportunity to go get vaccinated.
At this juncture, members of the press, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me inform the nation that having moved to level 1 of the pandemic, as measured by the steadily declining COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country, in addition to the general public health measures which must be strictly observed and enforced, the following specific guidelines will apply:
- No country or region is currently classified as high-risk; therefore, there is no restriction for travel into Malawi as long as inbound travelers produce a negative PCR based COVID test Certificate that is no older than 72 hours on the day of arrival into the country;
- Limitations for workplaces have been lifted to normal office capacity BUT subject to observance of recommended general public health preventive measures, especially use of face masks, frequent washing of hands, use of sanitizers and social distancing, and frequent disinfection of offices;
- Limitations on public transport carriage have been lifted to normal capacity of the vehicle BUT subject to observance of recommended general public health preventive measures, especially use of face masks, frequent washing of hands, use of sanitizers and frequent disinfection of the vehicle;
- Limitations on gatherings (cultural, religious, political, social-cultural, sport, recreational and hospitality events) have been relaxed as follows, with a proviso to STRONGLY recommend demand for vaccination certificates and to offer COVID -19 vaccinations at the venue of the events, especially at games, political rallies, and cultural gatherings:
- 50% of the venue for indoor events, with a maximum of 500 persons, subject to mandatory observance of recommended general public health preventive measures, especially use of face masks, frequent washing of hands, use of sanitizers and social distancing;
- 2,000 persons for outdoor events, subject to mandatory observance of recommended general public health preventive measures, especially use of face masks, frequent washing of hands, use of sanitizers and social distancing;
- A night curfew has been adjusted to run from 12 midnight to 0600 hours in the morning. Consequently, bottle stores, bars and restaurants must close by 11pm to allow staff to travel back to their homes before the curfew kicks in.
Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, I would like to emphasize the need for all of us to strictly adhere to the prescribed level 1 measures as these will help to suppress and stop
the further transmission of the virus in our country. The easing of the restrictions should not cause us to relax as the risk of the virus spreading among us remains high as long as most Malawians are not vaccinated. Failing to strictly adhere to these measures that have been put in place will result in resurgences of the cases and this will lead to stricter measures to be instituted. Let us work hard collectively to ensure that we reduce the new confirmed cases further, and get our social and economic lives back to normal.
Thank you so much for your attention.