Malawi president warns against complacency as COVID-19 test positivity rate drops

Malawi's newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera takes the oath of office in Lilongwe, Malawi, June 28, 2020. (AP)
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera. (AP)

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has warned Malawians against complacency, especially during Easter activities, amid falling COVID-19 test positivity rates.

The average COVID-19 positivity rate over the past week was 6.3 percent, down from around 30 percent in February, Chakwera said on Sunday during his regular monthly update on developments in the country.

The positivity rate on Sunday was 4.5 percent.

The president warned that planning festivities that breach COVID-19 preventive guidelines would be a grave mistake.

“We are still under the state of a national disaster that I declared 75 days ago,” Chakwera said. “That means the regulations we enacted for stopping the spread of COVID-19 remain in force, including the washing of hands, the wearing of masks, and the maintaining of social distance.”

“We do not want a repeat of the laxity that happened over Christmas, which caused both the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the number of COVID-19 deaths to increase five-fold in the three months since,” he said.

If the positivity rate stays below 5 percent throughout the week and throughout Easter, the country can ease the restrictions and open the economy further, Chakwera said.

Malawi has reported 33,481 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 29,611 recoveries and 1,114 deaths Since April 2020, when the country confirmed the first cases of the pandemic.