Minister of Health Jappie Mhango has outlined strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus during the 21-day nationwide lockdown, including restricting the movement of people in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
Mhango, who is chairperson of a Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus established by President Peter Mutharika on March 7, 2020 said before the President’s televised national address on Tuesday that the restrictions would be in place from Saturday and a relaxation of the rules would be considered in three weeks.
The minister said persons providing essential services and enforcement officers shall be exempted from the application of the lockdown measures as provided under Part 1 of the Schedule to the Public Health Act (Corona Virus Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules 2020.
He said all essential services shall be obtained within the locality of residence.
The new guiadance says the Councils shall identify and licence persons for supply of essential goods and services to locality markets and shops, the minister disclosed.
“Any person desirous of getting an essential service out of his or her locality shall get a permit from the local government authority or any delegated person to issue such permits by the local government authority,” he said.
“In the same vein, any person desirous of getting an essential service out of his or her district of residence shall get a permit from the Chief Executive Officer or District Commissioner of the local government authority,” added the minister.
Mhango said except for enforcement officers, no person shall be allowed to leave their homes unless they are listed under Rule 11(3) (a) (i) of the Public Health (Corona Virus Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules 2020.
He said all central markets shall be closed but “notwithstanding the generality of the preceding measure, local markets within localities shall remain open from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm on any day.”
The minister said local government authorities shall designate areas as localities for purposes of implementing the lockdown measures.
“During the lockdown all non-essential businesses or services will be suspended pursuant to these measures and Regulation 13(2) of Business Licensing Regulations.,” he said.
According to the minister, the persons to perform an essential service or supply essential goods shall be given a permit by the District Commissioner or the Chief Executive Officer of the Council of the area.
He said any person who breaches these measures commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine as prescribed under the Public Health Act
“We had to take a close, long and hard look at what is happening around us and make hard but yet helpful decisions that will curb the spread of this deadly virus. The more we wait to take action, the more the spread because there is now local transmission in the country,” Mhango said.
These measures represent some of the most far-reaching curbs on personal freedom ever introduced in Malawi in peacetime.
But Mhango said several countries including those near Malawi have already imposed lockdowns which seemingly has worked in curtailing new infections.
The government is also stopping all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies – but funerals attended by immediate family members are allowed not more than 50.
Malawi has, so far, 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus, mostly from individuals who arrived in the country from India, United Kingdom and elsewhere. Two deaths associated with COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, have been registered to date.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :