The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Service has taken a step further to combat the spread of the deadly Coronavirus in the country which has so far spread to six African countries, including South Africa.
The department, led by its director general Masauko Medi in partnership with Blantyre District Health office (DHO), held an emergency meeting in Blantyre on Friday to strategise on the handling of Coronavirus to prevent its spread in the country.
Coronavirus or Covid-19 has, so far, killed over 3 400 and infected about 100 000 people globally.
At the meeting, which was attended by all immigration heads of departments across the country, including officers in-charge of border posts, Medi stressed the need for the department to limit the issuance of visas for visitors from countries heavily infected by Coronavirus.
He observed that the department has a crucial role to play in protecting the country from Coronavirus because immigration officers are the first point of contact with immigrants.
Medi called on immigration officers to be vigilant in enforcing the Citizenship Act by vigorously checking immigrants to prevent the deadly virus from spreading into the country.
He said: “We need to relate the issuance of visas to the spread of the disease.
“We know that as a country, we cannot operate in isolation, but we have the responsibility to manage people that are leaving and entering this country.
“So, we have a role to play to protect Malawians to ensure that the disease is not spread within our borders.”
Medi further warned immigration officers to desist from corruption such as issuing fraudulent visas and asked them to check the previous countries the immigrants have travelled to before allowing them to enter country.
“We need to love our country. When we are issuing visas, we are not supposed to look at the economic benefit you have as a person,” he said.
The mood turned somber during the meeting when Blantyre DHO environmental health officer Benjamin Chunga revealed that Malawi has no laboratory to test Coronavirus.
But he was quick to point out that government plans to procure laboratory equipment for testing.
Currently, the country relies on South African laboratories to test new pandemic viruses such as Coronavirus and Ebola.