Malawi special Cabinet committee on coronavirus has outlined strict new measures to tackle the pandemic from spreading in the country, including decongesting the country’s prisons by pardoning the sick, old and lactating mothers from the country’s prisons.
This was disclosed by five cabinet ministers led by Minister of Health and Population Jappie Mhango at a news briefing in Lilongwe.
Mhango said world super power United States of America surged past China and Italy to become the planet’s most infected nation Thursday, a stark milestone in the coronavirus era – and a reminder of its deadly, culture-changing effects on people’s life.
He said though Malawi has not yet registered any case on Covid-19; the country should remain steadfast to keep the country safe from the coronavirus outbreak.
“Coronavirus is not a joke, this is a big thing,” said Mhango who chairs the special Cabinet committee on coronavirus.
The ministers said among the new measures will be limiting the passengers in public commuter transport, announcing a ban on passengers standing in minibuses and buses and mandatory washing of hands with soap before boarding buses as well as reduction of passengers in minibuses from 15 to 8 effective 1st April 2020.
Government has also ordered suspension of cross-border passenger buses.
Speaking at the news conference, Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi said government will head the advice of civil society organisations (CSOs) to release about 50 percent of inmates in the country’s prisons following President Mutharika’s directive restricting gatherings of over 100 people at one place.
The civil society organisations (CSOs), namely Paralegal Advisory Service (Pasi), the Southern African Litigation Centre (Salc), Youth Watch Society, Universal Health Coverage Coalition (UHCC) and Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) proposed an urgent decongestion of the country’s prisons as a preventive measure against the pandemic.
Dausi said government has decided to decongest prisons by providing convicts the options of special parole.
“We will release inmates who are serving minor offences, including elderly inmates and those women with babies, inmates with good behaviour and were not convicted of serious offences,” said Dausi.
Dausi, however, said those released from jail will be quarantined before being set free to society.
Most of the Malawi prisoners live in appalling conditions, often contracting contagious diseases like tuberculosis and scabies.
Currently, there are 14 000 prisoners in the country which means if the CSOs request is implemented, 7 000 inmates will be released.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :