Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera says he is saddened by statistics showing a recent spike in coronavirus infections in the country.
In a Sunday radio address, he announced he was starting a 21-day fast to seek divine intervention into the pandemic that is on the rise again. Health experts say the situation needs more than prayers.
Malawi has recently seen a surge in coronavirus cases. Since Thursday, the country has been confirming more cases than ever recorded.
For example, on Saturday, Malawi recorded 381 cases with 12 deaths, the largest figure in a single day since it recorded its first three cases on April 2.
Chakwera noted the surge is largely because many people, including him, had ignored preventive measures.
President Chakwera has on several occasions been criticized for ignoring prevention measures during meetings.
This month, Chakwera was criticized after he was seen without face coverings and shaking hands with American singer Madonna at his state residence in the capital, Lilongwe. Madonna has four adopted children from Malawi and co-founded a charity there.
But in his Sunday radio address, Chakwera said it’s now time for everyone in the country to return to following prevention measures.
Chakwera said he has directed the ministries of Homeland Security and Health to scale up the enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines with immediate effect.
Maziko Matemba, who heads Malawi’s Health and Rights Education Program, says the prayers would only help bring deep reflection on the impact of COVID-19, but that the solution is to put measures in place to stop surging cases, especially at the community level.
Ministry of Health statistics show that more than 60 percent of confirmed cases are through local transmission.
Matemba adds that the government should also ensure that returnees escaping economic problems in South Africa are quarantined and tested before they are allowed to go to their respective communities.