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British envoy sets tone on Covid-19 response

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By Watipaso Nzungu 

Acting British High Commissioner to Malawi David Pert has pledged sustained assistance as Malawi battles Covid-19, singling out the education sector as one of the areas that would get a boost from his government.

“We are impressed with progress Malawi is making in fighting Covid-19. Of course, there is still more work to be done but there have been very good measures that I have seen and the rate [of coronavirus infection] in Malawi is quite low,” he said.

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He, however, echoed President Lazarus Chakwera’s remarks early this month that Malawians should not become complacent because of declining numbers of new Acting British High Commissioner to Malawi David Pert has pledged sustained assistance as Malawi battles Covid-19, singling out the education sector as one of the areas that would get a boost from his government.

“We are impressed with progress Malawi is making in fighting Covid-19. Of course, there is still more work to be done but there have been very good measures that I have seen and the rate [of coronavirus infection] in Malawi is quite low,” he said.

He, however, echoed President Lazarus Chakwera’s remarks early this month that Malawians should not become complacent because of declining numbers of new nfections.

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“We mustn’t be complacent because Covid-19 doesn’t respect any borders. We have to observe basic stuff like washing hands, wearing face masks and maintaining social distance. This is crucial. We hope that [Covid-19] vaccines will be rolled out in the future. The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the countries in the world to authorise the use of vaccines but it takes time to distribute and roll out, [the vaccines],” Pert said.

When former President Peter Mutharika declared a state of national disaster following the registration of the first coronavirus case in April 2020, the UK was the first international donor to provide direct funds amounting to £1.8 million to the National Action Plan to help Malawi prepare for Covid-19 cases.

The support helped Malawi to procure equipment for frontline health workers. Additionally, in October this year, the UK Minister for Africa visited Malawi and pledged a further £6 million [K1.3 billion] to Malawi in the fight against Covid-19.

“We are trying to work as closely as we can with Malawi to protect and prevent this disease. We work with schools. Of course, there are many schools in Malawi. We can’t cover the whole country. So, we’re trying to cover where we can make a difference,” Pert said.

Meanwhile, the UK government has handed over washing facilities and chlorine to 10 schools in Dowa District. Making the donation on Wednesday, Pert said he was impressed with preventive measures being followed in schools in the country.

The acting British High Commissioner made the donation through Kibebe – a social enterprise arm of There Is Hope Organisation— which fights for the rights and welfare of refugees in Malawi. Kibebe Coordinator Maria Chiponde thanked the British High Commission for the donation of £10 thousand, which enabled the organisation to make face masks and procure handwashing equipment for free-distribution to selected schools in Dowa.

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