President Lazarus Chakwera has said the new variant of coronavirus that has been circulating in South Africa called 501.V2 is now being seen in Malawi as the Covid-19 cases continue to surge with increased death rates.
The new variants appear to be more contagious, which is a problem because tougher restrictions on society is needed to control the spread.
Speaking on Sunday evening during his weekly status update on efforts to combat Covid-19 in the country, Chakwera cautioned Malawians to be careful by observing all the laid down guidelines and that he was right to unleash strict measures to contain the virus pandemic.
“It has been confirmed that the new strain of the virus from South Africa is indeed here in Malawi. This confirms that we were right to treat this new wave with the seriousness it demanded, and so we must stay the course in preventing it from spreading,” said Chakwera.
Malawi is one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus and recently has seen an enormous spike of cases and deaths has far surpassed previous waves of the pandemic.
According to medical experts, the South African variant has a number of additional mutations including changes to some of the virus’ spike protein which are concerning.
The spike protein is what coronavirus uses to gain entry into human cells. It is also the bit that vaccines are designed around, which is why experts are worried about these particular mutations.
In his address, President Chakwera, nonetheless painted a positive picture in the fight against pandemic, saying out of 17 334 us tests conducted in the past seven days, only 5027 tested positive representing 29% which is a drop by 8% from 37% a week before.
But Chakwera , who was flanked by Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka and Malawi Institute of Engineers representative Videlia Moyo, was quick to say that though the drop in percentage, new infections are still too high , hence a need to fully observe the directives which were set to contain further spread of the pandemic.
Further, Chakwera told the nation that 62 new testing sites have been completed out of the 77 sites he directed to be established. He said 51 500 testing kits have been distributed countrywide with 150 000 kits in stock while the other consignment is reported to be on the way into the country.
Chakwera reminded Malawians to wash their hands, wear face masks and observe social distance.