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Covid 19: No more social engagements!

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By Taonga Sabola, Jameson Chauluka & Mathews Kasanda:

Ben Phiri

Following registered cases of Covid-19 and a death related to the pandemic, the country has practically gone on a partial lockdown.

Public and the private sector are taking stringiest measures to prevent the spread of the ravaging pandemic which has so far affected over 1.5 million people world-wide while killing about 80, 000.

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Friday, the government through the Special Ministerial Committee on Corona Virus announced the suspension of all church gatherings, bar operations, wedding receptions, public engagements as well as hospitality activities.

However, churches are allowed to congregate during Easter as longer as the number of congregants does not exceed 100.

“In South Korea, a whole choir was infected by the virus at church,” said Minister of Local Government Ben Phiri.

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The government has also banned market days in rural settings apart from banning sporting activities and closing schools.

The Asian Business Community (ABC) in Blantyre, Limbe and Zomba has announced a partial lockdown for 14 days to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

The business community says it has reached at the “difficult decision” after extensive deliberations with the business captains who agreed to take the essential step to protect lives especially considering the fragile health delivery system in the country.

“After careful efforts to mitigate financial loss to the value chain of business and the national economy, the ABC Covid-19 Taskforce has come to the following difficult decision,” reads a circular signed by ABC chairperson, Faizal Aboo.

They say the increase in the cases and the “urgent pressing and the need” to contain the outbreak at the early stage is crucial, hence the decision.

The lockdown which is expected to be effected from Thursday midnight, demands that every member of the community who is above 53 years must not leave their homes and that all domestic workers above the same age must be given a paid leave.

Furthermore, no one is expected to leave their homes after 8 o’clock in the evening until 6 o’clock in the morning.

Meanwhile the community has warned everyone who will be found violating the lockdown rules will be fined K500 000.

Most shops in major cities in the country are owned by Indians who collectively employ thousands of Malawians.

The lockdown will end on 23 this month.

Economics lecturer at Chancellor College, Ben Kalua has said the lockdown will have a negative impact on the country’s economy.

Kalua said every lockdown has a negative impact. In the current case, he said some businesses are owned by people who are above 50 years who would want to be present at their business places.

Out of the eight local confirmed Coronavirus cases, one person has died.

Meanwhile, President of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera Friday said the country has not prepared enough against the Covid-19

“The places I have visited and what I have been able to follow, we are not prepared as we should be. A nation as ours at this stage having three testing centres with none up North when we are surrounded by countries that have been hit with the disease you can feel that we are ill-prepared. Very few have been tested,” he said.

He further said with the outbreak there was need for all parties to come together and share wisdom on how best to deal with the pandemic.

“There was a need for us to sit down because when there is problem you engage one another no matter the differences. This is a national threat,” he said.

The Judiciary has not been left out as it has moved to reduce the number of people to attend the hearing of the appeal case in which the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) is challenging the Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the May 21 presidential election. The appeal case has been scheduled for April 15.

A memo from the office of Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court dated April 7, 2020, says the Supreme Court will only accommodate two lawyers from each party in the case.

“The first appellant will be allowed to bring two officials, the second appellant (Mec) will be allowed to bring one official. The first respondent will be allowed to bring two officials and the second respondent will be allowed to bring two officials,” reads the memo.

The memo further indicates that few media houses including Times Group will be allowed to bring one person in the court.

Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court Agnes Patemba confirmed the memo as coming from the courts.

With additional reporting by Audrey Kapalamula

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