By Patricia Kapulula, MANA
Despite putting in place law enforcement mechanisms, Government of Malawi has appealed to all Malawians to take responsibility by observing set rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The appeal was made in Lilongwe on Saturday when principal secretaries and other top government officials from Ministries and Departments which form the Special Cabinet Committee on coronavirus (COVID-19) held a press briefing to clarify on issues that Malawians need to know on the pandemic.
Early this month, President Peter Mutharika directed the setting up of the committee whose objective is to assess and oversee a cross-government response to the threat posed by COVID-19.
The Special Cabinet Committee, which is chaired by Minister of Health and Population, is composed of eight ministers and a deputy.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Dr Dan Namarika who chaired the press briefing, said prevention of the disease is possible and cost-effective if everybody takes the responsibility and follows the set rules of prevention.
He said there is need to control human movement, saying it is important so that the country does not import the disease.
Meanwhile, Malawi is testing everybody coming through the borders and other points of entry. So far, 10 people who showed symptoms of the disease have been tested and the results showed negative.
“All of us need to look out for those who have travelled from other countries within the last fourteen days and inform health personnel in order to prevent the spread of the virus should such people have the symptoms of the disease,” he said.
COVID-19, which is now a global issue, was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China. It is believed that the disease originated from animals such as bats and it has now affected humans.
Namarika has since advised people in the country to desist from eating bush meat, saying despite the meat spreading diseases like COVID-19, the country’s laws doesn’t allow consumption of such meat.
Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services Director General, Masauko Medi concurred with Namarika, saying the best law enforcement mechanism starts at individual level.
He emphasised on behaviour change in the way Malawians do things so that the disease is prevented from coming into the country.
“Each one of us should protect ourselves from the disease by ensuring that we adhere to the mechanisms put in place. Safety begins with you,” he said.
He said countries such as China have been able to contain the situation because of adherence to set mechanisms such as isolation in the event of someone showing symptoms or confirmed with the disease.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary, Justin Saidi appealed to business operators to adhere to regulations so that the country can contain the situation.
In order to address the pandemic, Malawi Government has developed a Response Plan whose total budget is K15 billion. Government has since provided K2.5 billion as immediate funding towards the plan.
On Friday, President Mutharika declared a State of Disaster which has seen closure of all schools by Monday, 23rd March, suspension of hosting of international meetings, restriction on public meetings such as weddings, church congregations and rallies among others, to less than 100 people and banning travel of foreign nationals from countries highly affected by the disease amongst others.
In January, 2020, World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic as it has spread to all over the world with all continents registering cases of the disease.