• On 15 August, the President in his address to the nation announced that opening of schools, colleges and universities will take place in early September. While the exact date for the reopening has not yet been determined, the Ministry of Education is undertaking preparatory activities to ensure that the schools are safe for opening.
• The country’s airports are expected to open for commercial flights in the first week of September.
• UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health to train 56 clinicians from three central hospitals as part of a process to empower districts and central hospital to undertake the death audits.
• To date, UNICEF support has enabled over 8,000 people in 6 districts to receive community-based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support from District Social Welfare Officers.
• The Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, has trained 256 laboratory workers staff from all 51 testing sites in the country on newly approved testing protocols and guidelines and other technical aspects such as reducing wastage and invalid/indeterminate results.
As of 25 August, there are 5,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 registered in all 28 districts of the country showing a small increase of four per cent from the previous report. Infection remains high within communities with locally transmitted infections at 4,329 which is almost four times the number of imported cases at 1,094; in contrast to the situation in late May when Malawi started receiving returnees from South Africa and had more imported cases. A total of 3,066 cases have recovered while 170 have died. Majority of the cases 1,780 (33%) are among people in age group 30-39 years while deaths are occurring mostly among people in the age group of 50 to 59 years. Further analysis shows that majority of the cases in this age group have other existing morbidities thus reducing their survival once they are infected.
The country’s borders remain closed except four borders and Kamuzu International Airport to allow transit of essential goods and services. Active tracing and monitoring of contacts of confirmed COVID-19 are ongoing. So far, over 7,000 primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 cases have been traced.
Amidst the slowdown in economic activity due to both domestic and global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant loss of livelihoods coupled with limited access to services, a recent report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee(MVAC) indicates that between October 2020 and March 2021,15 per cent of Malawi’s population (2.6 million people) will be in integrated food security phase classification (IPC) phase 3 which means they will experience food consumption gaps and will require urgent food assistance. Of these, about 2 million are in rural areas while about 600,000 are in urban areas. This is an added stress on the population especially the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the society who are already struggling to cope with the impacts of the pandemic. The government with support from humanitarian actors will soon embark on an exercise to develop a response plan for provision of the much-needed assistance.