Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a state of disaster after two cabinet ministers died from COVID-19 amid a spike in coronavirus infections.
While speaking during a televised address to the nation, Chawera said Transport Minister Sidik Mia and Local Government Minister Lingson Berekanyama both succumbed to the disease in the early hours of Tuesday.
The President termed the deaths an “incalculable loss. The two 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 deaths followed a cabinet meeting and other gatherings attended by politicians over the Christmas period at the president’s oval office on December 21.
The government also confirmed that former governor of Malawi’s central bank, Francis Perekamoyo, and the principal secretary in the Ministry of Information, Ernest Kantchentche, also died of the disease.
Chakwera on Tuesday summoned an emergency meeting of the COVID-19 task force to issue potential new measures.
So far, the Southern Africa country has a cumulative total of 9,027 confirmed cases and 235 related deaths. Some 1,852 of the cases were imported cases, mostly from returnees from South Africa, where a new highly contagious variant of the virus was found.
“We must all rise together and do what the health experts tells us to do,” Chakwara said in his Tuesday speech.
“Each one of us must wear mask in public, social distance and wash hands … we are fighting for our very lives and our future.”