How Malawi and Africa have tackled Covid-19
Since coronavirus (Covid-19) was discovered in China’s Wuhan city in December 2019, the disease has spread so fast across the world, killing millions of people in the process.
While many thought the virus would be contained in a matter of time; that has not been the case as it was eventually declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to various media reports, it was evident that many African countries and the world at large were quick to put in place strict measures, particularly involving entry points such as airports and boarders.
Malawi was, however, among African countries who registered cases of Covid-19 a bit late as compared to neighbouring South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe among others.
Different stakeholders faulted government for a lackadaisical approach on the matter, arguing President Peter Mutharika took time to put in place stringent measures on how the country was going to protect its citizens from the virus.
The social media was awash with posts of disappointed Malawians, especially after it emerged that there were some among them who had returned home after the virus had affected other countries where they were.
Most faulted how porous our airports were; in as far as first hand screening of those coming into the country is concerned.
This week on Tuesday, President Peter Mutharika announced a 21-day-lockdown from April 18, 2020 midnight to May 9, 2020.
The announcement came at a time when the country has registered 16 Covid-19 cases, including two deaths.
Mutharika said during the lockdown, Malawi will intensify laboratory testing for coronavirus, continuing with the recruitment of additional health workers, enhancing security by deploying security personnel to provide border security patrols and mounting of roadblocks in strategic points nationwide.
However, the lockdown drew mixed reactions from political parties, human rights activists and the locals in general.
A lot of people faulted the measure arguing a lot of Malawians survive on hand to mouth and a lockdown with the country’s economy is not the best decision to fight the virus.
Minister of Information Mark Botomani backed the decision by government to enforce a lockdown arguing each country has a way of fighting the virus.
“Every country has its own way of responding to the pandemic as advised by public health experts. For your own information, one of our neighboring countries is struggling to keep the cases under control.
“The number of new cases is growing day by the day and commentators are pointing to lack of putting stringent measures such as one which we have announced here in Malawi,” he said.
In its Africa’s Purse report, World Bank praised Tanzania’s president John Magufuli as one of the best examples for its strategic approaches that were considered the best of its political economy and well-being of the society.
The report titled as “assessing the economic impact of COVID-19 and Policy Responses in Sub-Saharan Africa” commended Magufuli for not duplicating policies implemented in advanced countries and some middle – income as pasted by some African countries in the region.
With 32 COVID- 19 confirmed cases, 3 deaths and 5 recoveries, Tanzania unlike other African countries has not locked down businesses and its citizens. The country has not also closed its borders but initiated strict testing’s and 14 days’ quarantine to all arrivals.
The report mentions South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, who have reacted quickly and decisively to curb the potential influx and spread of the COVID-19 virus very much in line with emerging international experience.
World Bank revealed informal employment is the main source of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 89.2 percent of all employment (ILO 2018). Excluding agriculture, informal employment accounts for 76.8 percent of total employment respectively.
A prolonged lockdown will put at risk the subsistence of their households.
Meanwhile among other countries South Africa, Zibwabwe, Namibia and Eswatini are still on lock down.