Health ministry warns citizens against Covid-19 ‘mobile phone’ fraudsters, infections increase

As Covid-19 continues to impact Malawi, fraudsters have seized the opportunity to make fraudulent calls and sending text messages to trick unsuspecting individuals into exposing their personal information.

These fraudulent phone calls and text messages are attempts to have individuals volunteer personal information to criminals, including bank details and mobile money passwords in order to steal from them.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the Ministry of Health informs Malawians that there is currently no programme to give citizens any Covid-19 monetary support to the public through any means, including the mobile money platforms.

Dr Charles Mwansambo: Beware of fraudsters

In the statement, which has been signed by Secretary for Health, Dr. Charles Mwansambo, the ministry says it has noted that some fraudsters are sending text messages to people informing them that they have received Covid-19 money from the Ministry of Health and putting numbers for the people to call to claim their money.

“It has to be pointed out clearly that there is no such arrangement by the Ministry of Health and if anyone receives such messages, they should report the numbers to the police so that the fraudsters are apprehended.

“Further, the network providers are asked to investigate and block these numbers and also work with the security agencies to bring these fraudsters to book,” reads the statement in part.

According to the ministry, there is currently a high community transmission rate of Coronavirus and that in order to reduce and stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country and that everyone is encouraged to continue adhering to Covid-19 preventive measures, including hand-washing with soap; avoiding overcrowded places; maintaining physical distance of at least one metre; and proper wearing of face masks.

Meanwhile, according to the Public Health Institute of Malawi (PHIM), Covid-19 infection numbers continue to increase at a worrying rate.

In PHIM’s Covid-19 Epidemiological Report for week 28 (12-18 July), as of 18 July 2021, a total of 43,817 confirmed Covid-19 cases had been registered in Malawi. Of these cases, 4,399 were reported from 12 to 18 July 2021 (Epi-week 28), representing an 86.3% increase in the number of new cases compared to Epi-week 27.

“In the past week, all districts reported new cases with the majority of the new cases recorded in Blantyre (1,018), followed by Lilongwe (861), Mzimba South (267), Zomba (262), Mchinji (223), and Kasungu (191).

“A total of 17,232 samples were tested for Covid-19 in the past week (Epi-week 28). Cumulatively 302,784 tests have been conducted in the country. The positivity rate for the past week was 25.5%, an increase from 21.1% in the previous week.

“In the past week, there were 419 newly hospitalised cases, representing a 95.8% increase compared to Epi-week 27. Cumulatively 3,171 cases have been admitted since the first cases were registered on 2 April 2020,” says the report, adding 96 new Covid-19 deaths were reported in the past week, a 134% increase compared to week 27. Cumulatively, 1,352 deaths have been reported, and the overall case-fatality ratio is 3.09% (1,352/43,817).

In the past week, according to the report, 1,166 recoveries were registered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 35,087 representing a recovery rate of 80.08%.

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