Photographer Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)
Photographer Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)

Sugar factory shut down in Malawi due to Indian Covid-19 variant scare

By Reuters Time of article published May 7, 2021

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MALAWI has ordered a sugar factory to suspend its operations after 41 workers tested positive for the novel coronavirus and one died, Malawi media reported on Friday.

Daily newspaper The Nation reported that health experts were of the view that closing down the Salima Sugar Factory alone was not enough, and called for extensive contact tracing and screening of community members surrounding the factory, as the Covid-19 variant might have originated in India, where 22 out of the 41 local and foreign workers who tested positive recently came from.

Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda on Monday ordered the closure of the factory, and directed that all confirmed Covid-19 cases be placed under institutional isolation and that all others working at the factory be placed under institutional quarantine with immediate effect, at the cost of the company.

News website Nyasa Times reported that an Indian national who was part of a group of 41 who arrived in Malawi to work at the Salima Sugar Factory died on Monday. It is suspected that his death was due to the Indian variant of Covid-19.

He was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.

Meanwhile, Sunbird Hotels and Resorts has told workers that they must be vaccinated, reported news website Malawi24, even though the Ministry of Health maintains that vaccination is voluntary.

Citing a memorandum the company sent out to workers, the news website reported that the company has warned workers that they need a vaccination certificate and those who have not been vaccinated by May 24 will not be allowed to come to work.

Those who cannot be vaccinated on the advice of a doctor have been advised to produce written proof from a government-authorised doctor.

Malawi has vaccinated over 300,000 people since March. The country is expected to roll out the second phase of the AstraZeneca vaccination campaign in June, three months after the first phase has been concluded.


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