State House has cut traffic to Kamuzu Palace to ensure safety of President Lazarus Chakwera and the palace staff amid the continued rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country.
The development comes barely a day after the President said he was worried with the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country and asked people to adhere to public health guidelines to fight the pandemic.
Presidential press secretary Brian Banda said in an interview yesterday that State House is taking some drastic measures to ensure the President, staff and those visiting the State House are safe from the pandemic.
He said: “The State House is the place where the President lives. We have, therefore reduced the number of people visiting as well as the number of staff working on daily basis. We have also suspended the Presidential Weekly Briefing for journalists.”
However, Banda declined to give details on the extent of the staff and visitors’ reduction.
Currently, State House is working on conducting the Presidential Weekly Brief online.
According to Banda, State House is also running weekly Covid-19 tests among staff and, so far, no Covid-19 positive case has been recorded.
He said activities will return to normal once the Covid-19 situation has eased.
Meanwhile, Malawi Health Equity Network executive director George Jobe has commended State House for taking such actions, saying it will help people to understand the seriousness of the pandemic.
He said: “It is a good development. It will impact how people perceive the Covid-19 pandemic. Sometimes, people do not understand through words but action. So, if they see the State House leading in preventive measures, they will adhere to them.”
He called on people to religiously observe the Covid-19 precautionary measures, including hand-washing or sanitising, wearing masks and observing physical distancing, or risk a lockdown which would greatly affect the economy.
“The country cannot afford to effect a lockdown as that will be disastrous. A lockdown needs proper planning and resources as people will need to be supported with money and other resources to survive,” said Jobe.
In a brief national address on Sunday, Chakwera lamented that most people relaxed on observing Covid-19 precautionary measures, especially during the Christmas and New Year festive season; hence, the country is now paying the price.
While conceding that he was among the people who relaxed in the fight against Covid-19, Chakwera said the country cannot continue to relax in the fight against the pandemic because lives are being lost.
In his address on Sunday, the President said: “Within a fortnight, over 1 500 new infections have been confirmed, which is an average of over 120 new infections every day. This is putting too much pressure on our health system and health workers. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
Chakwera, who said he was going into a 21-day fasting and prayer session, also directed the Ministry of Homeland Security and Ministry of Health to ensure that the public health guidelines in place are being enforced.