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14 Apr 2020 | 08:22 PM UTC

Malawi: Nationwide lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 April 14 /update 4

Malawian authorities announce nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from April 18; follow government directives

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Event

Authorities in Malawi announced on Tuesday, April 14, that a nationwide lockdown will come into effect from Saturday, April 18, until Saturday, May 9, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. During the lockdown, all non-essential businesses and services close.

The Malawian Ministry of Health confirmed the first death from COVID-19 in the country on Tuesday, April 7. According to international reports, the patient was a 51-year-old Malawian woman with underlying health conditions, who had recently returned to the country from the UK.

As of April 14, in total, 16 cases and two associated fatalities of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Malawi. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

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.

Advice

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.