Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday declared a state of disaster and announced three days of national mourning after two cabinet ministers died due to Covid-19, reported Reuters.
“In accordance with section 32, subsection 1, of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act, I declare a state of national disaster in all districts in respect of all the districts of the country with effect from today, January 12, 2021,” Chakwera said during an address to the nation.
Local Government Minister Lingson Belekenyama and Transport Minister Muhammad Sidik Mia died in the capital Lilongwe. Both were senior members of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main partner in an alliance that unseated former President Peter Mutharika in June last year.
The Malawian president called the deaths an incalculable loss. He also declared a state of disaster as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase. He said the country has now entered the eye of the pandemic.
“This declaration of the national state of the disaster is but the first step towards the possible declaration of the state of emergency, subject to consultation with and approval from the defense and security committee of the national assembly as stipulated in section 45 of the constitution,” Chakwera said.
The president said he was saddened that out of 235 COVID-19 deaths registered since the start of the second wave in November, 50 of them have been recorded in January alone. He said the rise in cases has compelled him to issue strict measures. He further warned that more stringent measures against the pandemic are yet to come.
Chakwera appealed to the international community, relevant United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector for more assistance to fight COVID-19.
The Malawian president urged the people to follow the guidelines issues by health experts that include wearing masks in public, maintaining social distance, and washing hands frequently.