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Malawi declares 21-day coronavirus lockdown

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Malawi’s Health Minister Jappie Mhango has declared a 21-day lockdown in the country to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The country has to date confirmed a total of 16 coronavirus cases including two deaths.

The lockdown will commence at midnight on 18 April and end at midnight on 9 May.

With the exception of law enforcement officers and providers of essential goods and services, people will need to seek permission to leave the area around their homes.

District commissioners and local chief executive officers will identify providers of essential goods and services and issue them with special permits.

While all central markets will be closed, local markets will be allowed to open between 05:00 and 18:00 local time.

In a separate address, President Peter Mutharika said the lockdown could be extended if circumstances warrant it.

The president said security personnel will be deployed at border points during the lockdown and will also set up roadblocks at strategic points across the country.

“Fighting coronavirus is a challenging war for everyone, everywhere. It is also a very expensive war,” said Mr Mutharika.

Malawi is one of 19 African countries that have benefited from debt relief announced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) two days ago – intended to enable poor countries cope with the financial burden of fighting the pandemic.

Last week, President Mutharika announced that together with other top government officials he would take a 10% pay cut for three months.

The funds saved will be directed to the efforts to fight Covid-19 in the country.

The country is scheduled to hold a fresh presidential election on 2 July after last year’s vote was annulled by the constitutional court in February citing widespread irregularities.

President Mutharika, who won the original poll, is appealing against the ruling.

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