Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera has accused the government of failing to dispatch 20 000 coronavirus (Covid-19) testing kits to district hospitals, saying this is a great set back in the prevention war against the outbreak that has ground the global economy at standstill.
In his special address to the nation televised on Wednesday evening, Chakwera said he has visited a few health facilities to see if they are ready for such an outbreak, and the sad truth is that the health facilities are not ready.
He said although President Peter Mutharika has declared a state of disaster to prevent the spread of coronavirus, his government has done very little to prepare health facilities to conduct tests and to prevent transmissions.
“I have also learned with alarm that our borders continue to be crossed by people from corona-stricken countries without being tested.
“In fact, ever since the declaration of disaster and the setting up of three testing centres in the country, the health authorities have conducted less than 100 lab tests,” said Chakwera.
He pointed out that government received 20 000 test kits from China, where the disease is suspected to have originated from, but conveniently neglected to provide storage rooms for the tests at district level.
“These lapses mean that as a country, we are hoping for the best, that this virus will not cross our borders, but we are ill-prepared for the worst,” said Chakwera.
But ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said the testing kits from China are not compatible with laboratories in district hospitals.
He said the testing kits would be placed in three major centres of Lilongwe and Blantyre where they are compatible.
Chakwera has since called on government to treat Covid-19 as the crisis it is and avert a potential outbreak, urging it to work out a social protection package to protect the poor from impact of the pandemic.
Commentator have also backed on government putting social protection measures to help the people such as subsidising transport operators to ensure they do not skin alive passengers.
As part of physical distancing measures, passenger service vehicles such as minibuses has reduced the seating capacity but has doubled the bus fares.
The reaction from Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology Mark Botomani that those feeling the pinch on the measures should “walk or buy bicycles” has been condemned as unfortunate remarks and insensitive to the poor.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :