The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has given Malawi K1.7 billion (£1.8 million) to strengthen the country’s preparedness and prevention for the coronavirus.

The UK High Commission in Malawi said this in a joint statement with Ministry of Health and UNICEF Malawi.

According to the statement, UNICEF Malawi will use the funds to support the Ministry of Health to improve airport and border screening capacity; train health workers to respond to a potential outbreak; and equip emergency treatment units with medical and intensive care supplies as well as water and sanitation facilities so that they are ready to treat potential cases.

DFID has also helped set up the testing facility in the national Public Health laboratory in Lilongwe.

“We recognise the need to act fast, to help Malawi prepare for the threat of COVID-19. This is why we have provided £1.8m with immediate effect, to set up emergency treatment units and rapid response teams, and critically, to boost public health messaging. I call on all Malawians to follow official advice, especially on handwashing and social distancing,” said Head of DFID in Malawi, David Beer.

On his part, Secretary for Health and Population Dr Dan Namarika said with the absence of effective treatment, raising awareness of the risk factors for Coronavirus infection and the protective measures individuals and communities can take, is the only way to reduce human infection.

“Thanks to DFID through UNICEF for this very timely support to the Malawi Government,” he said.

UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenk noted that the support from DFID is timely and will assist his organisation’s ongoing collaborative effort with the Government of Malawi to prevent the virus from spreading in Malawi.

The funding will also help ensure that citizens will receive accurate, reliable information about what to do to protect themselves.

Although Malawi does not have confirmed cases at the moment, so far the Covid-19 outbreak has affected 197 countries with over 21,000 deaths, and more than 530,000 confirmed cases.

There are over 2,000 confirmed cases in Africa across 39 countries. Malawi’s neighbors, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania have all reported cases.

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