An epidemiologist Titus Divala has said proposition for schools to reopen was too early, saying Malawi is not yet at a point where classes can start amidst the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Divala, a member of the Society of Medical Doctors, said going ahead with reopening schools would be risking a surge in Covid-19 cases in some communities.
He was reacting to a statement from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) that it has reduced the primary school knock-off period by an hour as one way of preventing the spread of virus pandemic.
Divala said the Ministry of Education should withdraw the statement and initiate consultations with epidemic experts immediately.
He said the “life-threatening disease we have amidst us is bigger” and that reopening schools early would be putting a risk to pupils, their teachers, their families and communities, and the nations.
According to Divala, more time is needed to contain the outbreak as Covid-19 is likely to claim over 50 000 lives in the country, according to Kuunika modeling by the Ministry of Health.
By Saturday, the country had recorded 570 COVID 19 cases, including 11 deaths.
Divala stressed that it was too soon for schools to reopen and that it risked the rate of infection increasing as the evidence shows the best weapon against Covid-19 is keeping people far apart and limiting movements.
He said Malawi needs to take advantage of the slow Covid-19 transmission to strengthen the health system, not to fuel the spread.
Malawi planned a 21-day national lockdown from midnight April 18 to midnight May 9 as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. However, the lockdown announced by Minister of Health Jappie Mhango did not work out following an injunction obtained by two concerned citizens and some civil society groups.