Experts in the health sector have said government’s decision to relax gazetted laws aimed at containing the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid 19) is disastrous, and smacks of indecisiveness in managing the public health threat.
After gazetting the laws last Saturday, religious leaders challenged their implementation, forcing government to back down on Thursday.
The thorny issue was the decision by government to reduce the number of people attending public gatherings to 10 from 100, which has now been reversed.
In an interview yesterday, epidemiologist Dr Titus Divala said while religious groups are within their rights, government’s flip-flopping on the matter is unacceptable and disastrous.
He said: “If government followed proper legislative process, these are issues that would not have cropped up; they would have been addressed by Members of Parliament representing those faith leaders or their subjects.
“On a scientific point of view, I wonder what the basis of the change was and I worry that soon the remainder of the document will after this, and the recent violations by the Head of State and others, become obsolete.”
He said there is need for consistent political and scientific leadership.
“A leadership that means what it says, one that walks the talk, one that has eyes on the prize: minimise Covid-19 deaths, while ensuring minimal collateral damage, and maintenance of a clear roadmap to full coexistence,” he added.
On his part, President of the Society of Medical Doctors, Dr Victor Mithi said as medical professionals, they expect firm decisions on management of Covid 19.
“We need firm decisions to achieve targetted results because sometimes when we move back and forth, we risk diluting the whole package that we have given to people.
“We believe that repetition of the same in future should not be the direction to take, we need focused and firm decisions,” he said.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 must energise its existing multi-sector committee and prioritise engagement.
“This is a national public health threat and we have stakeholders who are willing to support where they are gaps in enforcing Covid-19 regulations,” he urged.
Meanwhile, the National Elections System Trust (Nest), Malawi Watch and a concerned citizen, Luther Mambala, have expressed reservations on the new coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, describing them as not being reasonable.
Briefing the media in Blantyre on Thursday, the CSOs, including Mambala, said what the administration has done is more of a lockdown that was initially protested in the previous regime.
Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda, said it is important that government must not rush into imposing fines on Malawians for not adhering to the rules, but rather, considering the less privileged.
Cumulatively, Malawi had recorded 4,752 cases including 152 deaths by Thursday. Of these cases, 1 047 are imported infections and 3 705 are locally transmitted.