After directing that Vice-President Saulos Chilima should lead a ministerial task-team to review Covid-19 guidelines in order to respond effectively to the virus pandemic, President Lazarus Chakwera on Sunday came out with substance over style to deliver a comprehensive strategy aimed at defeating the invisible enemy.
Among others, President Chakwera announced the injection of over K17 billion (about $22million) into the Covid-19 strategy that will facilitate the hiring of new healthcare frontline workers and the construction of new treatment units to complement overwhelmed public hospitals.
Hospitals across the country are struggling to meet rising demand as Covid-19 hospital admissions rise to the highest point in the pandemic and the new, more transmissible variant of the virus spreads across the country.
In the face of rising demand, the President said government will construct temporary hospital such as 300-bed capacity field hospital at Blantyre Youth Centre, turn State House in Zomba into a temporary hospital to cope with patients affected by Covid-19, Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe will be a 100-bed makeshift hospital and another field hospital will be created in Mzuzu.
He also said K100 million will be injected into hospitals run by Christian Health Association of Malawi to support payment of health workers.
In his speech monitored on taxpayer funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television, Chakwera said Malawians must accept that “as a country, we do not have unlimited amounts of money to do whatever we fancy.”
Hitting at critics, he said: “ Some in this country are in the habit of making proposals that require billions in funds without stating where such funds will come from.”
He said: “As a nation, this luxury of living in fantasy land is one we don’t have. We must make our decisions within the reality of our situation.”
The President said he is running a country with a debt of K4.1 trillion “ so we don’t have all the money in the world to fight this pandemic.”
Chakwera said Malawians should accept that the scale of the pandemic demands a change of priorities.
“This is important to say because there are some who are still obsessed with politics, some who are still obsessed with cabinet appointments and reshuffles, and some who are still obsessed with campaign promises that were made on assumptions and in conditions that no longer hold. When a ship is at sea and it comes across unexpected rapids and is hit by an expected storm, only a foolish captain would insist on maintaining the same course,” said Chakwera.
The Malawi leader – who last week lost two Cabinet ministers in a space of a day to the virus – said priority from the released Covid-19 funds should be on immediate procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline health workers, 1000 cylinders oxygen along with accessories such as flow meters and monitors, which “must be in the country by the end of the week, even by chartered plane if need be.”
Chakwera ordered that schools in Malawi will close for at least 15 days from Monday under new restrictions and also ordered the introduction of night curfews from 21:00 local time to 5am and the reduction of public gatherings from 100 people to 50.
The President said it must be accepted that the virus pandemic is being spread by people’s behaviour.
“No matter how many policies, or law- enforcement protocols, or treatment programs the government puts in place, the virus will continue to spread and to kill the most vulnerable among us if our behaviour does not change,” he said.
Chakwera said “selfish and careless behaviour” fuelling the pandemic at individual and communal levels must stop.
“I trust that you will change and call out others around you who are not compliant. We must be our brother’s and sister’s keeper,” said Chakwera.
A third of Malawi’s 300 coronavirus deaths have taken place this month.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :