Most COVID-19 deaths in Malawi blamed on delays in getting medical help

A health worker attends to a COVID-19 patient at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital COVID-19 male ward in Blantyre, Malawi on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Malawi faces a resurgence of COVID-19 that is overwhelming the southern African country where a presidential residence and a national stadium have been turned into field hospitals in efforts to save lives. (AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi)

A majority of COVID-19-related deaths in Malawi are caused by delays by patients in seeking medical help, a government official said.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker attends to a COVID-19 patient at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital COVID-19 male ward in Blantyre, Malawi. (AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi)

Dr. John Phuka, the co-chairperson of the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19, made the comments while addressing the nation on why most patients in the country were dying.

Phuka said most patients go to hospitals when they have severely damaged lungs which deprive them of oxygen supply to vital organs, such as the brain.

Officials in the country have urged members of the public to seek medical attention once they notice any symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 rather than wait it out.

Phuka also cautioned the public against taking extreme home remedies to combat the virus.

Malawi has reported more than 500 COVID-19 deaths in January alone with the total number of fatalities in the country currently standing at 761, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.

Last month, President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster in the wake of an increasing number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities following the deaths of two cabinet ministers who had tested positive for COVID-19.

At that time, Malawi had only reported 235 deaths and just over 9,000 confirmed cases (currently at 25,449 cases). A more contagious strain of the coronavirus first reported in South Africa has since been confirmed in Malawi as the country struggles to cope with the resurgence of the pandemic.