Malawi police in the eastern district of Balaka on Sunday evacuated worshipers from churches as part of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) following the directive by government banning all public gatherings.
“Police officers came to our church and chased away worshippers. We ended the service abruptly,” church-goer Elias Tepani told Nyasa Times from Balaka’s Saint Louis Montfort Catholic Church.
Police chased worshipers in churches like Roman Catholic, Anglican, Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) and Church of Christ .
There are currently 34 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Malawi, with the latest case recorded in northern border district of Karonga on Sunday.
the Eastern Region Police Public Relations Officer Joseph Sauka said as Police they were just enforcing the measures put in place on Covid-19 prevention that all religious gathering be suspended.
“This will apply across the eastern region and it is not only targeting prayer houses, but it includes bars and bottle stores,” he said.
According to police, the churches in Balaka failed to adhere to the personal hygiene and social distance directives.
The law enforcers said they will do everything possible to ensure the government directives on pubic gatherings are adhered to and that will not hesitate to act in cases where they feel otherwise.
Angry worshipers, however, condemned the action saying why did the police allow tobacco market to open and then chase worshipers.
Health watchdog Malawi Equity Health Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe has appealed to Malawians to embrace the social distancing rule and observe personal hygiene to contain the spread.
However, he said there was need to review government’s measures in handling Covid-19, suggesting that there should be institutional quarantine for all positive cases to protect the public.
Jobe said while government might be following some international protocols on handling positive cases, it was necessary to ensure that local measures take note of local realities.
“We are proposing that everyone who tests positive— whether with mild or severe conditions—should be put on institutional quarantine,” he said.
The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread across the world killing thousands and World Health Organisation declared it a global pandemic.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :