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31 Mar 2020 | 07:03 AM UTC

Malawi: State of disaster in place due to COVID-19 March 31

Malawi’s state of disaster and entry ban on foreign nationals remains in place as of March 31



A state of disaster declared by the Malawi government due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains in place as of Tuesday, March 31. As a precautionary measure, all schools and universities have been closed since Monday, March 23. Authorities have also banned public gatherings of more than 100 people, which will apply to weddings, funerals, religious congregations, rallies, and government meetings. Security forces have been deployed to enforce the restrictions.

An entry ban on foreign nationals arriving from countries seriously affected by COVID-19, except for SADC countries, remains in place. Malawi residents and nationals arriving from COVID-19 affected countries will be required to self or institutional quarantine. Additionally, authorities have suspended the issuance of visas to foreigners from countries affected by COVID-19. The government has also advised the public to avoid non-essential travel to COVID-19 affected countries.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Malawi to-date. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:  

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.  
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.