Thursday, April 9, 2020

Covid-19 Update

Some friends have been asking how we are, and what the conditions are in Malawi with Covid-19. Here's a summary:
Corona has been confirmed to have arrived in Malawi, but we seem to have much less than Canada, at this point. On the other hand, we really don't know how much we have here. There is likely more than we know. The govt. began testing only about a week ago, and we have eight confirmed cases and one death so far. However, we have far fewer international travelers here than in developed countries, and the govt. stopped all flights two weeks ago, so we believe that accounts for the smaller number of cases here. But we're concerned about how fast it may spread.

Our concern is not so much for ourselves. But we're very concerned for Malawi, because social distancing is much harder for Africans in general than for Westerners (and we find it plenty difficult). Add to that the fact that among the people we work with in villages constant hand washing will be very difficult because people don't have running water, and soap is a luxury item. If large numbers become ill, hospitals will be completely overwhelmed, and we have very few respirators in the country. Plus, there are high numbers of people here with serious health issues such as TB, HIV, Diabetes, Asthma, heart conditions, etc. So, we're praying for God's mercy, and would appreciate your prayers, as well.

We aren't on lock-down yet. That could come, and if it does it will be very difficult for people who live hand to mouth. In some African countries where lock-down was imposed, they are considering a reprieve because people who can't go to work or run a subsistence business are starving. For now, here in Malawi, we've just received the announcement that everything is closed except for essential services, and nearly all meetings are banned. Personally we had already been severely limiting our own movements because we don't want to unknowingly become contagious and unwittingly spread the virus.

As for Chris, he rejoined us here 18 days ago, and is still well after traveling. For which we are very thankful. He left before Ottawa had many cases, and observed a self-imposed isolation here in Malawi. Carleton University closed down live classes and moved them online. Chris considered staying on campus to reach out to international students, and was praying about some other possibilities, as well. But the university strongly encouraged students to return home. They were moving students apart to achieve greater distance, and shutting down common rooms and the cafeteria (delivering meals to rooms), etc. So, staying on campus seemed neither practical nor attractive (and rather lonely). Coming back to Malawi seemed better than the other options, and the Lord gave him peace about it. And, as confirmation that it was a good decision (we felt), Carleton gave a travel subsidy which paid for his trip here. (He'll also get a pro-rated refund of what he paid for room and board). So we're very happy to be all back together again, and thanking God for this little bright spot in the midst of all the concern we have for our hurting world.
Thank you so much for asking. It means a lot to us.
Many blessings! Dean

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