Malawi Police Service (MPS) will today launch an operation to crack the whip on people violating measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) which has claimed two lives in the country to date.
Police issued an internal communication yesterday, advising officers about the commencement of the enforcement of measures.
However, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera in an interview yesterday played down the communication and indicated that the law enforcers have been on the ground enforcing compliance to the measures announced on Thursday by the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19.
He said: “We are already enforcing measures that government has put in place. We are making sure that people are abiding by those regulations. We are doing all what we can.
“But we also want to say that it’s not possible that we can get to each and every place in the country. So, this is the responsibility of all of us since the problem is affecting us all. People don’t need to wait for the whip from police for them to comply with these measures.”
Kadadzera warned against non-compliance, saying those found in violation of the law risk facing the law.
The exercise has been dubbed ‘Covid-19 Outbreak Preventi v e Measure Enforcement Operation’. It is scheduled to start today after a meeting Acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa has called with heads of branches and subordinates at the National Police Headquarters parade ground .
The Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 announced new measures which were scheduled to come into force last Thursday.
The new measures inc lud e t empor a r y suspension of operation of bars or any other beer drinking joints, suspension of social gatherings such as weddings, cultural ceremonies and mobile markets, among others. The measures also bar street kids from loitering around town.
During the committee’s press conference on Thursday, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Ben Phiri said the measures also include banning church gatherings. However, he said this would come into force after the committee meets religious leaders tomorrow.
In some cities such as Blantyre and Mzuzu, bars and other social joints have been given a time limit of 8pm as closing time.
Observations yesterday indicated that bars and other social joints were still operational in most parts of the country, including the capital city Lilongwe.
In countries such as South Africa and Uganda, there are similar operations following an announcement of the lockdown in their respective countries due to Covid-19 outbreak.
Images posted on the social media have shown that those who go against the order are severely whipped and others forced to go back to their respective homes by security agencies.
Malawi has not implemented a lockdown. However, some Malawians of Asian origin on Thursday announced a partial lockdown of their businesses.
During yesterday’s interview, Kadadzera said the police will target those who will not comply with the measures which have become part of the preventive guidelines.
Malawi has since recorded 13 Covid-19 cases and two deaths in a space of one week. The first three cases were reported on April 3 and confirmation was done the following day.
President Peter Mutharika declared the country a State of National Disaster on March 20 this year. He banned gathering of more than 100 people at one place