Zomba (Agenzia Fides) - "When Covid 19 arrived in Malawi, we found ourselves unprepared and frightened. So far God has saved us from many deaths compared to Europe and other parts of the world. To date, there are over 500 cases, the majority are attributable to people from abroad. The fear is that outbreaks of the virus may develop locally". This is what Mgr. George Desmond Tambala, Bishop of the diocese of Zomba reported in an interview with Agenzia Fides, talking about how the population is facing the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The health emergency in Malawi risks widening the gap between the countryside and the city. 85% of the population lives in rural areas, has no access to information and is not aware of the seriousness of the situation. "The impact of the virus on these people is potentially dangerous - says Fr. George - because it is more difficult to put social distancing into practice and to follow the sanitation guidelines". The situation in the city is different, where awareness campaigns and measures taken by companies have paid off. Anyone who enters banks, shops, petrol stations and other commercial establishments is invited to wash their hands. "However - continues the prelate - many have lost their jobs during this period and the pockets of poverty are likely to increase even in the city, thus feeding a spiral in which those who cannot afford the most basic prevention practices become easy prey for the virus and of contagion". Across the country schools and universities have been closed, gatherings with over 100 people have been banned. To ensure social distancing, public and private transport has limited access.
Furthermore, the living conditions of the poorest are of further concern. About three quarters of the population in Malawi, in fact, is engaged in informal jobs: "They are the people most exposed to contracting Covid-19" - underlines Mgr. Tambala. "These are mainly farmers and small traders who go to the market in the morning to sell their goods at retail". In this context, the diocese of Zomba immediately activated itself to contain the spread of coronavirus, establishing a dedicated task force, launching awareness and fundraising campaigns. "We want to ensure an important role in the fight against this epidemic - declares Fr. George - sharing with the faithful all information related to the disease and preventive measures, such as personal hygiene".
"The resumption of the Eucharistic celebration was welcomed with great joy by the faithful" - notes the bishop - and, on the challenges of the local Church, believes that "this time of pandemic can offer the opportunity to reflect on how we can adopt new ways of evangelization: we must ask ourselves how we can be more supportive, especially towards those who have serious financial problems due to job losses. We need to strengthen the faith at a family level - he concludes - and to be attentive towards the young who during this period have shown a great capacity to support efforts and make a valid contribution to stopping the infection". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 20/6/2020)