The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 says there is no need for panic over Malawians returning from South Africa in busloads because the new requirement is that only those with Covid-19 negative certificates travel.
Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka made the clarification in an interview last evening amid fears of potential imported cases with the arrival of about 1 000 Malawians from South Africa.
He said: “Previously, we used to have cases of some of those coming in testing Covid-19 positive. But that is not applicable now. Those travelling are supposed to show Covid-19 negative certificates and if they don’t, buses that ferry them are fined.
“Many of those coming do comply and those who do not are charged about K100 000. So, things have changed now.”
Mwanza Border Post Immigration spokesperson Pasqually Zulu said out of the last batch of buses that arrived on January 22, three buses carried passengers without certificates and the transporters were fined.
He said: “The embassy in South Africa identified facilities where they are tested before departure.
“Today [Sunday], we have cleared 18 buses instead of the expected 21. We understand that three buses had a breakdown in Zimbabwe. So, we will be screening them to check if there are those without certificates.”
Initially, those returning from South Africa would be screened and tested on arrival. Those not showing signs were being sent home to self-isolate, while those requiring special care were being managed in hospitals.
In January, impatient Malawians who had returned from South Africa and were quarantined at Mapanga Prisons Training College in Blantyre awaiting Covid-19 results went on the rampage and destroyed public and private property in their vicinity.
In May 2020, at least 440 people temporarily held at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre upon arrival from South Africa awaiting coronavirus test results escaped without knowing their status.
Malawi, which is currently experiencing the second wave of coronavirus, reported its first Covid-19 cases on April 2 2020.
The previous administration planned a 21-day national lockdown from midnight April 18 to midnight May 9 as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. However, the lockdown was foiled by a court order obtained by comes concerned citizens and civil society organisations.