Health Activist Maziko Matemba has asked government to consider cushioning vulnerable families with reusable face masks in order for the country to win the battle against novel coronavirus.
Government on August 7, 2020 gazetted new rules regulating the fight against COVID-19, the 'Public Health Corona Virus and COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Management Rules, 2020'.
Among others the gazetted rules declared mandatory wearing of face masks in public, and those found without masks will be fined K10,000 or three months in prison.
Matemba says while government's move is understandable to control soaring cases of local transmission, there is need for the provision of support to vulnerable families in the fourth coming budget.
"Looking where we are going with local transmission, I know Malawi cannot manage with a total lockdown but there are certain things that we have to follow because if we don't follow that then we are putting our people under risk.
"So having gazetted the laws to help contain further spread of COVID-19 pandemic, there is need for the government to support vulnerable families to access some essential commodities like cloth face masks and soaps for them to follow measures as gazetted.
"Government needs to seriously consider in the next budget that vulnerable groups are caushioned by among others removing tax on cloth used to make face masks. This can help to reduce prices of these essential materials for fighting COVID-19," says Matemba.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Charles Mwansambo, refused to divulge more information saying most issues regarding the gazetted rules will be explained on Sunday August 9, 2020 at a press briefing in Lilongwe.
Apart from mandatory wearing of face masks, government has also banned all public gatherings like parties, weddings bridal showers, and those found contravening this rule will be liable to a K100,000 fine and also serve three months in prison.
Some of the law enforcement officers for the rules include police officers, health officials and Malawi Defence Force officers just to mention but a few.
Cumulatively, Malawi as of Saturday August 8, 2020 has recorded 4,624 cases out of which 1,031 are imported infections and 3,593 are locally transmitted. A total of 143 people have so far succumbed to the pandemic.