Malawi President Peter Mutharika has declared a 21-day lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a speech broadcast on television on Tuesday night, Mutharika said the lockdown would initially be effective from midnight on Saturday and would stretch to May 9, but might be extended as warranted.
“Currently, Malawi has suffered 2 deaths. As I speak, the United States of America has lost over 23,000 lives. Italy has lost over 20,000 people. The United Kingdom has lost over 11,000 lives,” he said.
“Many more countries across the world have lost many lives. All our neighbouring countries have coronavirus cases and lives are being lost. If we are not careful, Malawi can lose up to 50,000 lives. We need to act more now.
Mutharika said the government would intensify laboratory testing for the virus and the recruitment of additional health personnel across the country. It would also deploy more security personnel to patrol borders and mount road blocks at strategic points countrywide.
“We have already recruited 626 healthcare workers out of 2000 announced in my previously address. We have now set up an additional testing laboratory at Mzuzu Central Hospital which now brings the number of testing laboratories in the country to four,” he added.
Malawi would also provide personnel protective equipment to health facilities in all districts and conduct a massive awareness campaign to ensure that the public was well informed on the coronavirus.
“Fighting coronavirus is a challenging war for everyone, everywhere. It is also a very expensive war. As a nation, we require about MK150 billion (about R3.7 billion) for the implementation of the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan. We need to unite,” the president said.
He appealed to political leaders to join hands in fighting the pandemic.
“No one must take advantage of the suffering of people and politicise coronavirus. This is not a time for politics. This is a time for saving lives,” said Mutharika.
“Coronavirus is a real threat. As your president, I will do everything possible for us to save lives. Let us unite to save lives.”
Malawi has 16 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Two people have died from the virus.
The coronavirus, which was first recorded last December in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, has spread to other parts of the world, with over two million confirmed cases to date. More than 126,000 people have died, while over 484,000 have recovered.