- Schools temporarily closed
- New temporary hospitals
- Recruitment of doctors and nurses
- Night curfews
- Gatherings reduced to 50
- Public buildings to be disinfected weekly
- Employees must work on shifts
- Fines for walking without masks
President Lazarus Chakwera last evening unveiled a multi-billion kwacha and multi-pronged strategy to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The plan includes introduction of night curfews and the construction of temporary hospitals in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba to treat Covid-19 patients.
A total of K17.5 billion will be spent across various public sector clusters which are part of the Covid-19 response while Treasury will inject K100 million into hospitals run by Christian Health Association of Malawi to support payment of health workers.
The bulk of the expenditure will be channelled towards meeting urgent priorities, managing the surge of recent hospitalisations, providing emergency care to the critically sick, tracking the spread of the pandemic through testing and tracing, recruiting additional medical personnel and procuring medical recruitments and infrastructure.
However, the President did not indicate how many health workers will be recruited as part of the planned recruitment of medical officers. He just said the new temporary hospitals will be constructed in all major cities to decongest major hospitals with temporary health facilities in stadiums and the State House in Zomba.
Unlike when he delivered a statement on Tuesday in which he declared a State of National Disaster, the President yesterday was authoritative and provided more details.
In terms of procurements, Chakwera said in the televised speech monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation that priority will be on immediate procurements of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline health workers, 1000 cylinders of oxygen along with accessories such as flow meters and patient monitors, which “must be in the country by the end of the week, even by chartered plane if need be”.
The President also ordered the setting up of 1000 beds, including 50 to 100 specialised intensive care unit beds, the purchase of non-invasive ventilators to assist those having difficulty breathing on their own and 50 000 test kits to meet the projected demand for the next four months.
He said maintenance of oxygen plants in Nkhata Bay and at Kamuzu Central Hospital is already underway. He also saidgovernment will increase admission space from the current 400 national treatment units to 1500 over the next month, including the setting up of a 300-bed capacity field hospital at Blantyre Youth Centre, another 300-bed capacity field hospital at Bingu National Stadium, a 200-bed capacity emergency treatment unit in Mzuzu, and a 100-bed capacity field hospital at the Zomba State Lodge.
The President added: “All schools will close for three weeks, but students in boarding schools will remain in their respective campuses until health authorities assess the severity of infection in those schools to determine whether it is safe for those students to go home.
“During this time of containment in boarding schools, the task force will provide additional support to the schools to manage the students’ transition there, including communication with their guardians and parents.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence, whose organisation had earlier in the day decried the current government’s response to the pandemic, hailed the strategy as robust and adequate.
“We are happy that the President has responded to all HRDC calls and those of Malawians. Almost all the areas of concerns have been adequately [covered].
So far, the country has registered 12470 Covid-19 cases with 314 deaths since the first cases were registered in the country in April 2020.