President Lazarus Chakwera Sunday cancelled celebrations that were expected to take place today to mark Malawi’s 56th independence anniversary amid escalating cases of the novel coronavirus which has infected over 1,600 people out of whom 17 have died.
His inauguration as the country’s 6th President, which was supposed to be conducted concurrently with the independence commemoration, has since been shifted from Bingu National Stadium to Kamuzu Barracks with only 100 people to attend strictly on invitation.
“I have decided to cancel the celebrations to prevent any persons who may be exposed to the virus in one part of the country from spreading it to other parts as they travel to and from the celebrations.
“Meanwhile, a small inauguration ceremony will be held tomorrow morning [today] at Kamuzu Barracks in front of a small audience of 100 who will come strictly by invitation, while the rest of you will be able to watch it on various media platforms,” Chakwera said.
He also disclosed that the remaining funds saved by the cancellation will be channelled towards the work of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
He said among other measures, his leadership will also waive taxes on essential goods that are crucial in the management of the pandemic.
“We are all at risk of this infection; every one of us. That includes you, your children, your spouse, your neighbours, and your colleagues at work. It also includes me and the State Vice-President. None of us is immune to infection,” Chakwera said.
He has since reiterated the need for the public to adhere to the preventive measures as the disease continues to spread at a fast rate.
“I urge you all, every single one of you, to strengthen measures of hygiene around yourself, your home, and your place of work. I remind you to maintain a social distance of at least one metre from everyone at all times, wear a mask whenever you are in public spaces or public buildings, limit the number of people who can visit you at home, limit your travel in and out of your district as much as you can, and wash your hands with soap at least every hour,” the President said.
He also admitted that this is a “frightening time for us as a nation” especially with dropping temperatures but remained confident that the fight against the virus will be won.
Meanwhile Alliance for Democracy member Frank Mwenifumbo announced Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and is admitted at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe.
Writing on his Facebook page, the former Member of Parliament for Karonga Central has urged people who came into close with him the past 10 days to present themselves for testing. He also said his immediate family members have all tested negative for the contagion.
KCH spokesperson Chiyanjano Kazombo also confirmed the development, saying Mwenifumbo was admitted on Saturday.
The former Karonga Central Parliamentarian, Mwenifumbo said his immediate family members have all tested negative.