COVID-19 Hits Malawi’s Shores, Tough Times Ahead

COVID-19 Hits Malawi’s Shores, Tough Times Ahead


As the news that COVID-19 cases have hit the 1 million threshold across the globe, the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika was announcing that his country has registered its first three known cases of the disease.

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has announced the country’s first confirmed three COVID-19 cases after weeks of nil cases.

President Mutharika said the first recorded cases are linked to a female with a travel history to India.

“The patients comprise of a female from Lilongwe with travel history to India, a relative and a domestic worker,” the Malawi leader announced.

Mutharika: COVID-19 is in our midst

He added that efforts to trace people that have made contact with the affected people are underway.

Malawi’s first known cases come amid a report warning of dire consequences if the disease is not controlled in the early stages.

iHubOnline understands that while the official version is reassuring, professional projections shared with top officials spell a rather gloomy picture.

Experts fear that with minimal COVID-19 testing capacity, it will likely be difficult to estimate the trajectory of disease in Malawi.

According to the Kuunika Project Mathematical Modeling of COVID-19 in Malawi report which we have seen, at least 50, 000 people could succumb to the disease in the country if it goes out of hand in a year’s time.

Mathematical model projects dire consequences

The Kuunika Project: Data for Action is a 4-year program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and implemented through the Government of Malawi and some partners.

With Lilongwe becoming Malawi’s epicenter of the COVID-19 following President Mutharika’s announcement, a report of the mathematical model of the disease we have seen estimates that about 1,559,184 Lilongwe residents could be infected in a year.

The report indicates that about 47,278 will require hospitalization – among them 8,582 in critical state.

It also cautions that 5,064 deaths could be registered in Lilongwe alone.

Mathematical Model of COVID-19 Cases in Malawi

On a national level, the report paints a further worrying picture if measures are not put in place to nip the disease in the bud.

“Of those infected, it is anticipated that approximately 483,000 people will be hospitalized, and about 85,000 people would need Critical Care,” reads the report.

It also hints that over 85%, or 16 million people, will become infected over 1 Year.

“Of those hospitalized and admitted to critical care, up to 50,000 people could die directly from COVID-19,” further states the report.

Meanwhile, there is worry on how the country’s ailing health system would cope with the COVID-19 if the situation gets out of hand.

“Malawi has an estimated 25 ICU beds nationally, each which could contain lifesaving equipment for critical COVID Cases,” reads the report.

It further warns that failure to receive adequate care could result in an increase of mortality by almost half, at about 26,000 deaths.

The report also cautions that a COVID-19 epidemic has the potential to disrupt routine medical services through stressing the health system.

It also warns that more modest spillover of a 50% increase in HIV, TB, Malaria, and MNCH deaths could increase mortality by 27,000.

It cites how the 2014 Ebola outbreak resulted in an increase in TB mortality of 90% in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

The report, however, suggests not all is lost as the fatality rate is expected to be lower due to the nature of its population.

“Malawi will have a different fatality rate of COVID-19 due to its substantially younger population than places hardest hit (and with data) on COVID-19 mortality,” reads the report.

In order to contain the disease before it spreads across the country, government may enforce a lockdown.

The move will certainly draw mixed reactions particularly in view of fresh elections slated for July.

Would Key Political Stakeholders Accept Delayed Fresh Polls?

Ethiopia has called off elections due to the COVID-19 – but it is yet to be seen if Malawi will pursue a similar path and the extent of buy in of key political players should the decision or proposal be made.

As Malawi has three first known cases, the entire globe has recorded at least 1,000, 207. Of these cases, 210,199 cases are reported to have fully recovered, 51,356 deaths have been recorded and 738,652 cases are currently infected and seeking medical assistance.

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