National Bank orders Weekly PCR testing for unvaccinated employees

As corporate companies are encouraging their employees to get vaccinated against CoVID-19, National Bank of Malawi Plc will from January 21 enforce mandatory vaccination in line with the Bank’s concern for health, safety and welfare of its employees as per section 14.3 of its Conditions of Service.

In an internal memorandum which Nyasa Times has seen, further says all employees that have not been vaccinated are with immediate effect requested to do so by January 21 or “shall be required to undergo weekly negative PCR test at their own cost as confirmation that they are free from the virus before they can be allowed to go to work”.

Charles Dulira, can’t risk the health of everyone

The Bank says the proof of negative PCR test shall continue until such a time when the unvaccinated employees shall provide valid cards as proof of CoVID-19 vaccination — whether the AstraZeneca or the Johnson & Johnson jab.

The memorandum warns that all employees that shall fail to report for working for not having the PCR negative test result shall be given unpaid leave.

“Kindly note that CoVID-19 infections result in reduction of work productivity of the affected members of staff thereby affecting customer service,” says the memo issued by Charles Dulira Head, Human Capital.

“It is, therefore incumbent upon all members of staff to be inoculated against CoVID-19 or provide weekly proof that they are free of the virus.”

Above being in line with section 14.3 of the Conditions of Service, this also a requirement for every employer to provide a healthy employment environment which has been greatly hampered by the CoVID-19 pandemic as well as the need for employees to protect own lives; those of fellow staff and customers.

Last month, the government announced it would introduce mandatory CoVID-19 vaccination but Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) argued that the decision would have a direct impact on the citizenry’s enjoyment of human rights.

While Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) and a concerned citizen, Mundango Nyirenda went to court to challenge the same decision, saying CoVID-19 vaccine “is just an experiment and should not be taken seriously”.

The submissions for inter parte hearing was brought before High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda on January 3, where the applicants argued that CoVID-19 vaccines are “short term and not yet been approved by health authorities therefore cannot be forced on people”.

But Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda described Namiwa and Nyirenda as troublemakers, who have nothing to do with health issues and who cannot stand on behalf of Malawians on health issues.

The AG described as baseless the application for permission of judicial review and an injunction stopping government from implementing mandatory CoVID-19 vaccination, arguing that CDEDI and Nyirenda sued wrong parties as the Office of the Attorney General and Parliament have never made a decision for mandatory vaccination.

The AG also said the Ministry of Health is an improper party to the case, as no decision has been made and implemented yet. Judge Nyirenda has since adjourned the case to the later date.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s CoVID-19 situation update, says as of the past 24 hours, a total of 739,075 people are fully vaccinated from the 1,838,226 doses that have been administered in the country so far.

Cumulatively 1,098,568 people have received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine with 399,048 having had their second while 340,027 have had the one-off Johnson and Johnson.

There are 580 people who have received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine with three having had their second dose. Over the past 24 hours of Saturday, 3,523 people have received Johnson and Johnson, while 106 have had the Pfizer vaccine — thus bringing the total of those fully vaccinated at 739,075.

The situation report also said in the past 24 hours, there were 34 new admissions of which 30 were not vaccinated, one had received one dose of AstraZeneca vaccine while three were fully vaccinated.

Currently, they are 163 active cases that are currently hospitalised with the highest in Blantyre at 58 followed by 33 in Lilongwe and 17 in Mzimba North.

In the past 24 hours, there were 631 new COVID-19 cases that were registered; with 462 as new recoveries and four new related deaths. All new cases were locally transmitted — highest at 138 from Blantyre, 132 from Lilongwe, 56 from Kasungu and 55 from Ntchisi.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 79,713 cases including 2,411 deaths at case fatality rate 3.02% while a total of 62,140 cases have now recovered at the rate of 77.95% — bringing the total number of active cases to 14,930.

Co-chairperson of the presidential taskforce on CoVID-19 Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda reminds Malawians that there are adequate stocks of vaccines in all vaccination sites in Government, CHAM and IHAM facilities and that District Health Offices are also continuing setting up temporary sites and mobile clinics to bring the vaccines closer to the people.

The temporary sites are being setup in markets, villages and shopping malls and Chiponda commends local, church and other influential leaders who are continuing mobilizing the communities to get the vaccine.

“The vaccines, when combined with the recommended preventive measures, can effectively reduce the transmission of the virus amidst us,” said the Health Minister.

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