President Peter Mutharika has announced - as Nyasa Times earlier reported - that government will enforce a three-week lockdown with strict new curbs on life to tackle the spread of Covid-19, a strand of coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Mutharika said the 21-day lockdown will begin at midnight on Saturday, April 18 2020 and he called on the country to "comply with the measures" because he said "they are for the good of our country."
President Mutharika said the lockdown will end on Saturday May 9, 2020, at midnight and could be extended further.
"This lockdown may be extended beyond 9th May as circumstances warrant," said Mutharika.
Mutharika said the lockdown has come after Minister of Health Jappie Mhango has published a notice in the Malawi Gazette - a government publication that contains the formal public notices that are required by law - using powers vested in him under the Public Health Act.
In his declaration of the lockdown, the Minister outlined specific measures that will be in force during the period of the lockdown.
Malawi has, so far, 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus, mostly from individuals who arrived in the country from India, United Kingdom and elsewhere. Two deaths associated with COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, have been registered to date.
"Currently, Malawi has suffered 2 deaths. As I speak, the United States of America has lost over 23,000 lives. Italy has lost over 20 000 people. The United Kingdom has lost over 11000 lives," said Mutharika.
He continued: "Many more countries across the world have lost many lives. All our neighbouring countries have Coronavirus cases and lives are being lost. If we are not careful, Malawi can lose up to 50 000 lives. We need to act more now."
The Malawi leader said while on lockdown, government will continue taking actions that should save lives.
He said the actions include intensifying laboratory testing for Coronavirus.
"We have now set up an additional testing laboratory at Mzuzu Central Hospital which now brings the number of testing laboratories in the country to four," he said.
President Mutharika also said government will be continuing with the recruitment of additional health personnel across the country.
"We have already recruited 626 healthcare workers out of 2000 announced in my previously address," he disclosed.
The President said he will be deploying security personnel to provide border security patrols and mounting of road blocks in strategic points country wide.
He also said government will be providing personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to treat patients to health facilities in all the districts; and conducting massive awareness campaigns to ensure that members of the public are well informed on the virus pandemic.
"Fighting Coronavirus is a challenging war for everyone, everywhere. It is also a very expensive war.
"As a nation, we require about MK150 billion for the implementation of the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. We need to unite. "Let me once again appeal to all political leaders that we need to join our hands in fighting this Coronavirus pandemic. Noone must take advantage of the suffering of people and politicize Coronavirus. This is not a time for politics. This is a time for saving lives.
"Coronavirus is a real threat. As your President, I will do everything possible for us to save lives. Let us unite to save lives," he said.
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