Malawi to go on lockdown from today through May

Photo: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP via Getty Images Malawi begins a 21-day lockdown today with the closure of all

Botswana Archives - The Amed Post Photo: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP via Getty Images

Malawi begins a 21-day lockdown today with the closure of all non-essential businesses and services until May 9.

Although Malawi has only 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a severe lack of testing has heightened fears that the virus is spreading undetected. President Peter Mutharika fears that an unchecked virus could ultimately kill 50,000 Malawians.

Due to a lack of resources, Malawi is unprepared to deal with the economic effects of a shutdown. To help avoid catastrophe, UNICEF has donated $3 million in supplies and the World Bank will lend $37 million in financial assistance. Still, Mutharika asserts that Malawi needs over $200 million to implement a nationwide response plan.

It is unclear whether the shutdown will be effective. Vendors and businesses in Blantyre have already indicated that they will not comply with government orders. In addition, a weak economy and lack of legitimacy due to allegations of election fraud will likely complicate the government’s control over public health. If the current government proves ineffective in guarding the Malawian economy and public health from the pandemic, expect a swing in support towards Mutharika’s opposition in the upcoming July elections.

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