Presidential Taskforce on Covid co-Chairperson-cum-Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has announced new Covid vaccination and containment measures.
Some of the measures— including that children aged 12 years and above are supposed to be vaccinated using Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine for the time being— have taken effect immediately while others will be effected in December.
She said the government was waiting for further expertise regarding other vaccines.
“From today, government has introduced new testing and Covid vaccination measures at Dzaleka Refugee Camp [in Dowa District] and new Covid testing measures at all points of entry. This will take effect from Monday December 6 2021,” Kandodo Chiponda said.
She added that every traveller coming to Malawi would, from December 10, have to produce a new Covid Vaccine Electronic Certificate to show proof of vaccination or will be vaccinated at the time of entry.
She said all the new measures would remain in force until December 31 2021.
Meanwhile, Southern African countries have demanded the immediate lifting of what they call draconian travel bands imposed on them by some countries on the basis of the new variant of Covid— Omicron— prevalent in the countries.
They made their position clear during the special session of World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Republic of South Africa made the call for itself and on behalf of other countries including Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The countries say it is improper for the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), the United States (US) and Switzerland, among other countries, to ban travel to and from Southern African countries although such bans have not been effected on other countries which have also registered the same variant.
“It is against this backdrop, Chairperson, that the Southern African countries wish to convey their disappointment in member states who have imposed these unjustified travel bans on them. We find these travel bans discriminatory and borderline xenophobic, in light of the fact that the same travel bans were not imposed on other parts of the world where the very same variant has been identified.
“The Special Session of the WHA provides the opportunity now more than ever to reaffirm collective multilateral response to the current Covid pandemic rooted in the principles of mutual responsibility and accountability, transparency, representation and importantly equity as a principle and outcome. We call for lifting of the draconian travel restrictions that have been imposed in our region,” the statement reads.
The statement, which was delivered to the assembly, says Southern African countries join the World Health Organisation and the Africa Centre for Disease Control in propagating risk-based and scientific approaches to addressing Covid-related challenges.
On Sunday, President Lazarus Chakwera, who is also Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Chairperson, condemned the international community for imposing travel bans on Sadc countries because of the new variant of Covid.
“We are all concerned about the new Covid variant and owe South Africa’s scientists our thanks for identifying it before anyone else did. But the unilateral travel bans now imposed on Sadc countries by the UK, EU, US, Australia, and others are uncalled for. Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia,” writes Chakwera on his Facebook page.