Covidiot is a combination of two words, COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) and ‘idiot’. The Urban Dictionary has coined the term “covidiot” to describe those who go against public health advice amid the coronavirus outbreak and High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda’s decision to issue a court order that led to the release of four Chinese nationals who had been quarantined on arrival at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) last Tuesday has earned him that tag.
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani has said in a statement that government is ‘disturbed and dismayed’ by Nyirenda’s order which prevented the deportation of the four Chinese nationals, saying it shows lack of patriotism.
The minister adds that by issuing the order, the judge had undermined local and global efforts to protect people’s lives from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease which has killed thousands globally.
Said Botomani: “At a time different players are taking active roles to prevent importation of Covid-19 into Malawi, it is disappointing that Judge Nyirenda is pulling in the opposite direction. The court order has potential to make Malawi a weak link in global efforts to fight Covid-19.”
He said he feared that the judge’s action may have already put millions of Malawians at potentially high risk of contracting the virus.
He added: “We find it unfortunate that of all players, it should be the Judiciary that chooses to put the lives of millions at a potential risk, especially at a time players in different sectors have complied with Government’s guidance in Covid-19 prevention.”
Botomani said government has encouraged the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services to apply for the vacation of the injunction for the sake of fighting Covid-19.
Justice Nyirenda granted the injunction without hearing from the director general of Immigration and Attorney General, as first and second respondents respectively, advising them that should they want to have the injunction varied or discharged, local lawyers for the Chinese nationals must be notified 48 hours beforehand.
The judge stated the injunction was valid up to March 26 2020, the same day an inter partes hearing will be held on the case
The order also forced the Department of Immigration to remove the four, Lin Xiaoxiao, Liu Zhigin, Wang Xia and Tian Hongze, from quarantine at KIA, effectively restraining the Immigration from sending back the four to China, warning that should the order be disobeyed, they [immigration officials] risked being imprisoned or have their assets seized.
The four were released even before being tested for coronavirus and before the recommended 14-day quarantine period had elapsed.
Malawi is yet to record a case of the coronavirus but neighbors Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania have recorded cases.
On Friday, Presidenr Peter Mutharika decalred a State of Disaster and imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from highly affected countries such as Italy, China, Germany and United Kingdom.
To prevent the spread of the virus, Malawians are being encouraged to follow precautionary measures such as washing of hands frequently with soap and water; avoiding handshakes; maintaining social distance with people; and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :