Malawi has announced a 21-day national lockdown effective midnight April 18 to May 9 2020 midnight with a possibility of an extension to contain further spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who is chairperson of the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus, announced the lockdown in a speech monitored on State broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) last night.
He said: “Today, I am here to announce a lockdown pursuant to Section 31 of the same [Public Health] Act to deadly virus. contain the further spread of the deadly virus.
“The lockdown will restrict the movement of people in order to minimise the spread of the virus. Several countries including those near us have already imposed lockdowns which seemingly has worked in curtailing new infections.”
In his national address also monitored on MBC later, President Peter Mutharika asked Malawians to fully comply with the new measures, saying they are for the good of the country.
He said: “Today, government has declared a 21-day lockdown. It will initially be effective at midnight on Saturday 18th April 2020 and will end on Saturday 9th May 2020 at midnight.
Mutharika said while in lockdown, government would continue undertaking actions to save lives.
The President said the actions include intensifying laboratory testing for coronavirus, continuing with the recruitment of additional health workers, enhancing security by deploying security personnel to provide border security patrols and mounting of roadblocks in strategic points nationwide.
Mutharika asked political party leaders to join hands in fighting the deadly disease, saying: “No one must take advantage of the suffering of people and politicise coronavirus. This is not a time for politics. This is a time for saving lives.”
Malawi needs about K150 billion for the implementation of the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.
Malawi’s lockdown means it has joined South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya as African countries declaring lockdowns.
But commenting on the lockdown earlier in reaction to measures Mhango gazetted, lawyer Chrispine Sibande said Malawi should be exploring local options with its own unique challenges.
He proposed starting with sectional lockdowns such as restraining movement between districts, regions and local areas.
Said Sibande: “For example in Lilongwe people in Area 25 should
those in Chinsapo, Area 23, Kauma, 18, 15, Mtsiriza etc. The same with other cities, towns and districts.” remain in Area 25, so too
On his part, Sunduzwayo Madise, dean of law at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, earlier observed that the notice Mhango published on April 9 was subsidiary or second legislation while primary legislation is the Public Health Act.
He said Covid-19 is a serious issue which needed the full power of the law in dealing with it.
Madise’s colleague at the Chancellor College, economics professor Ben Kaluwa told yesterday’s edition of The Nation that a lockdown will paralyse the country’s economy.
He said: “We have seen lockdown paralysing the economy in Italy, China and other countries and this cannot spare Malawi.
“Poverty is also associated with inability to save. This means the majority will suffer because there will be no business.”
In his earlier statement yesterday, Mhango said the lockdown will be guided by the regulations that were published in a gazette on April 9 2020.