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Malawi Orders Schools Closed, Limits Gatherings in Wake of COVID19

Mutharika: Lets us not panic Mutharika: Lets us not panic File Photo

President Peter Mutharika has ordered closure of all public and private schools, colleges ‘including technical colleges’, and universities by Monday , 23rd March, 2020 as a measure against the possible arrival of the coronavirus in Malawi.

President Mutharika has announced a K15 bn (US$20m) budget for his government response plan to which K2.5bn, he said, has already been made available.

Mutharika said this in his address to the nation Friday evening in which he declared Malawi to be in a state of disaster due to the global threat of the coronavirus. Malawi is yet to register a case of infection.

Zambia and Tanzania have registered COVID19 cases and Mutharika has, as a result, announced measures his administration has put in place to help prevent spread of the virus if it made entry into the country.

“My Government is restricting public gatherings to less than 100 people forthwith. This restriction applies to all gatherings including weddings, funerals, church, congregations, rallies, government meetings etc,” he said indicating that the “security apparatus has being ordered” to enforce this.

Malawi has furthers banned travel of foreign nationals from countries highly affected by COVID19 with the exception of SADC countries and returning residents and nationals who shall go into quarantine.

Government has also suspended the hosting of international meetings and banned public servants from attending both regional and international meetings being hosted by affected countries. The ban has been extended to all people travelling on other government related activities such as sports.

Mutharika said his administration “is aware that some of the interventions being implemented have a negative bearing on people’s right to enjoy some of their human rights enshrined in our Constitution such as the right to assemble, the right to movement, and the right to participate in economic activities.

“My government is hoping that in pursuance of the greater national good, we will be able to reasonably limit such rights within what is attainable in our Constitutional framework.

“…We should not panic.  Let us all unite in Prayer of faith to a God that answers prayer. With spiritual grace and scientific resilience, together, we shall overcome this epidemic,” he said observing that health experts estimate that 97 per cent of patients infected by the virus get well after medical interventions. 

President Mutharika spoke against growing myths that black people are immune to the disease and that the warm climate of Africa is protective against spread of the virus and asked people to disregard these.

“The aim of these activities is to prevent Coronavirus from being transmitted into Malawi and also to prepare the country to handle any case should a Coronavirus case be diagnosed,” Mutharika said health personnel will be redeployed in all border posts to continue screening and surveillance of travelers.

Despite the commitment and donor support Malawi is receiving, Mutharika said “there is still a gap” for which he appealed for more support from the private sector and international community.

Meanwhile, the president has thrown in a political line urging his rivals to “tame their appetite to politicize the fight against Corona Virus” claiming some political leaders have made “unfortunate” remarks on the fight against Corona virus.

“I hope it was just a temporary error of judgment. Corona Virus is not a joking matter,” he said without elaboration. 

Novel coronavirus can be transmitted between human beings and has an incubation period of two to 10 days from infection to the onset of symptoms.  Those infected present with fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing. At present there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared coronavirus a global pandemic.

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Last modified on Monday, 23/03/2020

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