Malawi 'On Cusp' of 21-Day Lockdown Under Tougher Coronavirus Measures

12 April 2020

Malawi may enter a 21-day coronavirus lockdown this week similar to those seen in other countries to tackle the spread of the virus pandemic, Nyasa Times understands.

Minister Mhango:

Already, Malawi has registered 13 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with two deaths.

But there is growing fear over the risk of contagion in the country as frontline health workers are walking away from way following concerns over lack of protective equipment and welfare.

The nurses have also demanded government to give them risk allowance of 70 percent of their basic salary, just like doctors.

But Minister of Health, Mhango, who is chairing a Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19, has said government has provided the necessary equipment for protection of health workers in many health facilities.

On risk allowance, the minister said President Peter Mutharika himself "made it very clear that allowances should be adjusted upwards to motivate them."

The doctors also asked government to recruit additional 168 medical doctors, saying they are forced to work for 60 hours per week, instead of the recommended 42.5 hours due to huge workload.

While the government is dealing with the challenges with the medics, it is set to roll out tougher action to protect people's health due to the virus' spread as many people are not complying with the advice of physical distancing.

Mhango said government will not hesitate to bring forward further and strict measures "where we think that is necessary."

He did not rule out a full nationwide lockdown "in due course."

Mhango told a news conference on Sunday at Capital Hill in Lilongwe that there are still three borders that are still open "to allow for movement if essential goods"

Nyasa Times understands government was considering a far tougher strategy to deal with the coronavirus, starting this week.

President Mutharika is expected to announce "more stringent measures" starting Wednesday to slow the spread of the virus.

Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba observed that there is a weak Health Act of 1984 on enforcement as people are carelessly infecting others without observing the self-quarantine of 14 days.

"Some people on quarantine are found moving around as the current fine is just K50. We demand the Executive and Parliament to quickly review and adopt Coronavirus Act as what Kenya has done some weeks ago," said Matemba.

The new containment measures of full lockdown would also affect the electoral process for the July 2 fresh presidential elections.

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