Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Malawi to implement nationwide lockdown April 18-May 9 to curb the spread of COVID-19. Other restrictions likely in the coming days.

This alert affects Malawi

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 11:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: 2359 April 18- 2359 May 9
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions, quarantine measures

Summary
Authorities in Malawi will impose a three-week nationwide lockdown 2359 April 18-2359 May 9 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). During the lockdown, individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as seeking medical care and buying food, medicines, or other supplies. Essential services, such as health workers, emergency personnel, and security service providers, will be exempted from the lockdown. Additional security force personnel will be deployed nationwide to enforce the lockdown; police will erect roadblocks to screen travelers, patrol borders, and reinforce border crossings. All ports of entry will be closed to passenger transit. Commercial and freight transport is able to continue under heightened screening measures.

The lockdown is part of a broader program of nationwide measures aimed at containing the disease, which includes the indefinite suspension of international passenger flights, a ban on mass gatherings, and the closure of schools and restaurants. Enhanced screening measures are currently in place for all travelers. Persons from regions impacted by COVID-19 may be subject to a mandatory quarantine. Persons from high-risk countries are not permitted to enter Malawi unless they are residents. The government declared a State of Disaster March 20.

Background and Analysis
The viral respiratory disease is caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. The WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11. The declaration has led to countries globally to enact significant restrictions on internal and cross-border movement.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int