Latest situation, resources and support in Malawi
Generally, Malawi seemed to fare comparably well through 2020 with regards Covid-19. New infections and mortality were in decline from late July, there were relatively few cases from September to December, and less than 200 Covid-attributed deaths by the end of the year. Many have speculated that this might be due to demography (with a median age of 17), climate or vitamin D. Whatever the reason, we welcomed the fact that it seemed Malawi was experiencing a very different scale of outbreak compared to that of Europe, the UK and the US.
This all changed at the start of 2021, with more deaths in January than all of 2020. Two Cabinet Ministers and two senior officials died of Covid within 24 hours and the President declared a national emergency on the 12th January, with further national restrictions on the 17th.
New cases increased exponentially in January, doubling every four to five days and there are reports of healthcare systems being potentially overwhelmed across the country and a serious shortage of oxygen.
On the 25th January the SMP organised its 11th Covid Coordination Zoom meeting, with the Scottish Parliament’s Malawi Cross Party Group, the UK Parliament’s Malawi All-Party Parliamentary Group, Malawi’s Minister of Health, Scotland’s International Development Minister, and 250 mostly Malawian and Scottish stakeholders. All six Malawian speakers on the agenda had had close colleagues and friends die of covid in the last ten days, one had just been discharged from hospital with Covid, and another could not take part as they had just contracted Covid. Anecdotally, this seems broadly representative of what the SMP is hearing across Malawi.
Many fear that the official Covid death figures very significantly under-represent prevalence, community transmission and mortality.
Read the President of Malawi's latest Covid address (14 Feb), which includes details of steps taken to improve the governance and accountability around Covid appeal funds, and a change in personnel in the President's Covid-19 Taskforce.
It is not possible for the SMP to keep this page updated as often as we like, so we encourage readers to visit:
- Government of Malawi official Covid dashboard
- Daily and historic figures on new cases and deaths (collated by Google, from JHU CSSE data)
- Multiple graph options for Malawi covid data 'Our World in Data'
- Latest Malawi Covid news items
- UN & NGO report repository
While there is reported optimism in Malawi that the first Covid vaccines will be available in March, it seems clear that Malawi will be far behind the global north in terms of large-scale vaccine roll-outs. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that countries such as Malawi may not have wide access to vaccines until 2022 or 2023.
Official figures are reporting a decrease in new cases from 26th January and a decrease in deaths from 3rd February, although many fear there are increase instances of people choosing to travel to hospitals.
With our thanks to SMP member Dr Tracy Morse, we are delighted to share a range of key Covid-19 resources from Malawi. CLICK HERE to download.
Included here are:
- Government of Malawi official Covid-19 dashboard, updated daily, with all official statistics.
- Government of Malawi Ministry of Health Covid-19 public information leaflets in Chichewa and English
- Government of Malawi Ministry of Health Covid-19 guidance for road traffic, hospitals, hotels, churches, prisons, public transport, shopping centres and banks
- Government of Malawi Covid-19 guidance for schools
- Government of Malawi Covid-19 public information video in Chichewa
- Government of Malawi Ministry of Transport release
- Covid-19 public health advice and latest guideline posters in Chichewa /handwashing posters in English, Chichewa and Chitumbuka
- Malawi Environmental Health Association (MEHA) Covid-19 summary briefing
- Tiyamike posters, leaflets and videos in Chichewa about how to sew and wear masks and other PPE in Malawi (we are told this is Malawi Ministry of Health approved) produced by Tiyamike Sewing.
- African Academy of Sciences - Global Health Security: Covid-19 in Africa has lots of really useful information and resources
And thank you to Tiyamike Sewing for this excellent animated video in Chichewa about how to prevent transmission through social distancing, hand washing etc.
Working with our members and partners across Malawi and Scotland, we will continue to share key Malawi Covid-19 resources. If you have a resource you feel should usefully be shared here, please email email@example.com.
Animated video in Chichewa about how to prevent transmission through social distancing, hand washing etc - by Kenyawi Kids.
Horizon Medical Education have produced free online courses aimed at mid-level health workers, in part to combat some of the Covid-19 misinformation which was spreading widely. The courses are audio modules to keep data costs down, they are downloadable so can be listened to without connection and are supported by notes which can also be printed or downloaded. The courses are freely available to all SMP members and their partners in Malawi, following THIS LINK.
We recognise that the many cancelled trips to Malawi will have significant impact on both Scotland-Malawi links and the Malawi travel and tourism sector. We are therefore happy to promote the services of the Responsible Safari Company (RSC), who have developed a package of services specifically for Scottish organisations not able to travel to Malawi as planned due to Coronavirus. CLICK HERE for further details.
There is a range of financial support from the government that UK nationals can access if they are unable to return due to coronavirus restrictions.
If you’re in Malawi, and have exhausted all other options to cover essential living costs while you wait to return home, you could apply for an emergency loan for your living costs from the UK government. You can only apply if you normally live in the UK and you cannot return home. This last-resort option is for those most in need, and you would need to repay the loan when you are back in the UK. Apply for an emergency loan.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British High Commission in Lilongwe. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Commercial flights to and from Malawi remain very limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information.
The following travel companies are operating scheduled commercial charter flights:
- Ulendo Travels - Lilongwe to Lusaka and Dar es Salam on a number of dates throughout July and August from where there are onward flights to multiple destinations, including the UK. Interested passengers should call +265 (0) 999-970 700, +256 (0) 888 700 250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information.
- Satguru Travels (jointly with Ethiopian Airways) - from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa on or around 4 August (final date tbc) from where there are onward flights to multiple destinations including the UK. Expressions of interest should be made as soon as possible to: mobile number: +265 992 650 650 / +265 992 85 08 50 / +265 888 52 86 59 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details here
The above linked external content, news items and other media do not necessarily represent the views of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.