Blantyre City Council (BCC) and Lilongwe City Council (LCC) have come up with tough measures to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus which causes Covid-19, an infectious disease that has claimed over 30,000 lives globally.
Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo announced Monday that BCC has with immediate effect banned all large gatherings which include street vending, wedding receptions, parties and other social gatherings.
The directive comes just four days after LCC also banned wedding receptions and football matches as measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
When she announced the ban, Lilongwe City Mayor, Juliana Kaduya, directed that those wishing to wed during this period should just have their ceremonies officiated at churches or mosques without receptions.
“Coronavirus is real and we need to ensure that we avoid gatherings that promote body contacts,” Kaduya said.
And announcing the tough Covid-19 prevention measures at a press conference yesterday, Ndipo said BCC has also placed limitations on church gatherings and has introduced mandatory preventive measures for shopping centres, public buses, banks, hospitality industry and all other public places.
He said the measures are in line with Covid-19 preventive guidance from the Ministry of Health and the Society of Medical Doctors (SMD).
The Blantyre City Mayor further admitted that he was aware that the measures infringe on rights and freedoms which residents of the city are supposed to enjoy but insisted they are necessary to protect human life.
“I come before you with sadness that I am taking away some of your most treasured freedoms and hope that my actions will ensure that you are protected from coronavirus disease and live to enjoy these rights in future.
“While we have not registered any case so far, all indications are that we may soon have some. It took only 11 days to increase from 100,000 confirmed cases globally to 200,000, then four days to 300,000, then two days to 400,000 and just one day to 500,000 cases. To date, at least 34,000 people have died of Covid-19,” he said.
Ndipo said law enforcement agencies will be on the streets to make sure that the measures that he has put in place are adhered to.
He then reminded residents of the city of some of “inexpensive measures” which can help prevent the possible spread of the virus such as hand washing, cough etiquette and social distance.
A representative of SMD, Titus Divala, who is an epidemiologist by profession, stressed the importance of focusing on prevention, saying the country does not have the capacity to manage crisis levels that the pandemic has reached in other countries.
“Almost all of the people who are being hospitalised for Covid-19 need breathing and eating support. How many of such equipment do we have in our country? Your answer is as good as mine,” he said.
Divala also dispelled myths that black people are immune to Covid-19 and that taking alcohol increases immunity to the disease.
President Peter Mutharika recently declared a Covid-19 state of disaster and directed that gatherings of more than 100 people should be avoided.
According to the World Health Organisation, the following measures can protect people from contracting the disease and spreading it to others:
- Washing hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Covering nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding close contact (one metre or three feet) with people who are unwell
- Staying home and self-isolating from others in the household if feeling unwell
- Not touching eyes, nose or mouth if hands are not clean