COVID-19-Malawian President declares state of national disaster

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Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a state of national disaster in all the country’s 28 districts as COVID-19 takes its toll on Malawians with over 2,000 new cases recorded and at least 50 people dead since 1st January.

The president made the declaration in a special address to the nation after the death of two of his cabinet ministers on Tuesday morning due to COVID-19.

“I declare a state of national disaster in respect of all the districts in the country with effect from today, January 12, 2021,” said Chakwera.

“I, therefore, appeal for more assistance from the international community, relevant UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, for uncommon contributions towards the resources needed to meet the present challenge of the pandemic,” he said.

The president hinted that the declaration is the first step towards a possible state of emergency which he said is subject to approval by the parliamentary committee of defense and security.

Chakwera has described the death of the two senior government officials, Muhamad Sidik Mia, Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure, and Lingson Berekanyama, Minister of Local Government, as “incalculable loss”.

The president has since declared a three-day period of mourning, from 12th to 14th January and he has directed that all national flags across the country should fly at half-mast in respect of the government officials and citizens that the country has lost to the pandemic.

The Malawi leader has also directed ministries of health, homeland security, education, civic education, local government and justice to work together with the Vice President, Saulos Chilima, to consider amendment of the country’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Meanwhile, Chakwera has instituted an emergency meeting for the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to “explore additional measures” in preventing COVID-19 in the country in view of the president’s declaration.

Schools and all learning institutions are open in Malawi despite confirmed cases of COVID-19 being reported in some of the institutions and universities.

Over 9,000 cases have been recorded in Malawi since April 2020 and over 2,000 of these cases have been recorded in the month of January alone.

Hauwa Mustapha

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