Blantyre. Malawi's President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday announced that the landlocked country will implement a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has claimed two lives.
In a televised national address, Mutharika said the lockdown will be effective from midnight on Saturday and will end on May 9.
"This lockdown may be extended beyond 9th May as circumstances warrant, he cautioned.
"I would like to urge you to fully comply with the measures because they are for the good of our country."
So far, 16 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Malawi mainly in the main cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe, the special cabinet committee announced on Monday.
Mutharika warned that up to 50,000 lives could be lost if measures were not put in place to spread the of the virus in the southeastern African country.
"Many more countries across the world have lost many lives. All our neighbouring countries have Coronavirus cases and lives are being lost. If we are not careful, Malawi can lose up to 50,000 lives. We need to act more now," he said.
The head of state said Malawi would require about K150 billion (about $200 million) for the implementation of a national COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
"Fighting coronavirus is a challenging war for everyone, everywhere. It is also a very expensive war," he said.
When the first case was declared on April 2, Malawi announced the closure of all schools countrywide and restricted public gatherings to no less than 50 people.
Local government councils across the country also announced measures such as the closure of bars, banning weddings and public gatherings.