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Cabinet committee formed on Covid-19

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Joshua Malango

President Peter Mutharika has directed the formation of a Special Cabinet Committee of Coronavirus (Covid-19) to provide a national response to the outrbreak of the disease which is spreading fast across the world.

A statement from Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, says Health and Population Minister Jappie Mhango is heading the committee which comprises his counterparts for Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events (Everton Chimulirenji), Finance, Economic Planning and Development (Joseph Mwanamvekha), Education, Science and Technology (William Susuwele Banda), Industry, Trade and Tourism (Salim Bagus), Foreign Affairs and International Corporation (Francis Kasaila), Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (Kondwani Nankhumwa), Homeland Security (Nicholas Dausi) and Deputy Minister of Defence (Chipiliro Mpinganjira.

“The objective of setting up the Special Committee on Coronavirus threat is to assess the impact of the Covid-19 and oversee a cross-government response to the threat posed by Covid-19,” Muhara says in the statement dated March 7 2020.

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In an interview Sunday, Mhango said each minister in the committee would have the full backing of technorats during discussions on how to manage the threat of the virus and that terms of references would be discussed during a first meeting scheduled for today.

“The committee will provide strategic direction in as far as managing the current outbreak [in other countries] is concerned in terms of how we plan and prepare for issues such as resources,” Mhango said adding that they have stepped up screening of people travelling in and outside Malawi to affected countries such as South Africa.

The committee has been formed a month after the Health Ministry, through its spokesperson Joshua Malango, announced measures to prepare Malawi for a possible coronavirus outbreak including of “screening of people travelling from affected countries.

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Coronavirus started two months ago in Chinese City of Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease which has killed more than 3,500 people across the world.

So far reports from China suggest that 50 Malawians including students there feel trapped, want to get out and say they are running out of cash and supplies.

However, Charles Namondwe, Malawi Ambassador to China, last month dismissed the students’ call to be evacuated saying those who wanted to leave Wuhan would have to do so in their own capacity.

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