Following the resumption of football on 2nd April after a three-month suspension in Malawi due to the coronavirus pandemic, government has expressed its satisfaction with the adherence to the gazetted 2020 COVID-19 prevention, containment and management rules.
Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda said she went to see if the football fraternity was adhering to the COVID-19 stipulated measures during a Super League of Malawi (Sulom) match at the Civo stadium in Lilongwe.
She indicated that she was pleased to note the gathering did not exceed 50 and all the people present were wearing masks with hand-washing facilities mounted at the stadium.
“This just shows what Sulom pledged they indeed did. Our national team was playing and before the game, they wrote the Presidential Taskforce on the impending game and that the 50 people restriction will not be practical as it will involve so many stakeholders and asked if the number could extend to 100 and were given the nod.
“But this was a special exemption to the national team not just any other football match. With the resumption of football by Sulom, the letter that we gave them also applies to other sectors like religious gatherings, weddings and other social meetings.
“I must say I'm satisfied that SULOM is following the stipulated guidelines and I witnessed it myself,” disclosed Chiponda
She stressed that the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 is not against football resumption as it reckons people’s livelihoods depend on it.
Reacting to an accusation during a Tiwuzeni Zoona interview on Sunday that the Taskforce is playing double standards as politicians were left to campaign freely with total disregard of the measures she said:
“That accusation is true, but we look at where the burden lies; for the by elections to be given a go ahead, we looked at the figures and where the elections were being conducted against the disease burden and the laws which indicated that 60 days should not pass without an area having parliamentary representation.
“We try to balance up the equation. So yes the football fraternity, religious gatherings have indeed felt the impact of the pandemic. I must particularly commend the faith community who have really followed the rules to the latter especially those in towns and cities.”
The Minister admitted that she considers it a privilege to be heading such a challenging portfolio amidst the global pandemic and hailed the good support system from the Principal Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo together with other health personnel.
She also commended church’ adherence to the health protocols especially during the Easter festivities.
With reports of a third wave in Kenya and Ethiopia, she called on the public to be on their guard and continue adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures.
On the establishment of extra centers for COVID-19 vaccination which are still operational during Easter holidays in Lilongwe and Blantyre, she urged the public to patronise them.