President Lazarus Chakwera has disclosed that the presidential inauguration ceremony will take place at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe with a minimum of 100 invited people to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Initially, the inauguration was scheduled to take place at Bingu National Stadium to coincide with Malawi 56th Independence Day celebrations on July 6.
But addressing a news conference on Sunday afternoon from his private residence Area 6 in Lilongwe, President Chakwera said he has cancelled Independence Day celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chakwera said he made the decision considering the spike of Covid-19 infection across the country.
“I have received new information in the last 24 hours that has persuaded me to cancel the event altogether. By the time I addressed you at the start of the day yesterday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases was 1,498. By the time the same day ended, that number stood at 1,613, representing a rise of over 7 percent.
“Of the 115 new confirmed cases, 64% are local transmissions, and they have occurred in all three regions of the country, from the southernmost district of Nsanje to the northernmost district of Chitipa,” said Chakwera.
The new Malawi leader, who took an oath of office last Sunday presided by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, said the financial resources earmarked for the celebrations will be channeled towards the Covid-19 interventions.
He has since ordered a scaled down inauguration at Malawi Defence Force (MDF) barracks in Lilongwe where he will receive a sword of command in front of a small audience of 100 people “who will come strictly by invitation,” while the rest of Malawians will be able to watch it on various media platforms.
Chakwera urged the public to continue observing precautionary measures.
“We are all at risk of this infection, every one of us. That includes you, your children, your spouse, your neighbours, and your colleagues at work. It also includes me and the State Vice President. None of us is immune to infection. That means all of us need to take this pandemic seriously,” said Chakwera.
He has also urged those with signs of infection to go into self isolation.
Malawi has seen a recent spike in new infections as data shows cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks to reach nearly 1, 500 with 17 deaths.
Chakwera indicated restrictions on movement were imminent, saying new measures would be announced on Tuesday when he appointed a new health minister.
The President said the community transmission has escalated in the last three weeks.
“We’re in a worse situation today than we were three months ago. Coronavirus is spreading everywhere in Malawi and it’s spreading to kill,” said Chakwera.
He has called for strengthening measures of hygiene.
“I remind you to maintain a social distance of at least 1 meter from everyone at all times, wear a mask whenever you are in public spaces or public buildings, limit the number of people who can visit you at home, limit your travel in and out of your district as much as you can, and wash your hands with soap at least every hour,” he said.
The 65-year-old was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term after defeating former president Peter Mutharika in a run-off vote after courts annulled the result of the previous election.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :