President Peter Mutharika has declared a natural disaster in Malawi—even though the country has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19. Mutharika is heeding the lessons taught by other countries who exercised less caution when it came to the global pandemic, opting for prevention rather than crisis management.
All schools, colleges, and other facilities requiring the large concentrations of people have been closed, the country has restricted public crowds of more than 100 people. According to Quartz Africa, this restriction applies all gatherings, including weddings, funerals, church, congregations, rallies and government meetings.
United States President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for being slow to act in his handling of the outbreak. The White House was made aware of the virus as early as December. Trump initially dismissed all panic surrounding the pandemic as a “hoax,” by the Democrats who wanted to see him impeached.
Now, he has set his sights on reopening the economy as early as Easter Sunday, even though thousands more American’s are testing positive for COVID-19 by the day.
Though coronavirus-free, Malawi has not been complacent and border patrol officials continue to check the temperatures of all travelers crossing their borders and entering their airport.
“Twelve people who showed signs and symptoms of the disease have been tested and the results showed negative through the government’s public health reference laboratory,” said Joshua Malango, representative for the health ministry said.
On the continent, just eight countries remain free from the virus. Lesotho, Comoros, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Burundi, Botswana and Sao Tome and Principe have not yet confirmed any cases of coronavirus.
Botswana president Eric Mogweetsi Masisi announced earlier this week that he had entered self-isolation for 14 days after returning home from an official trip to neighboring Namibia— which has confirmed three cases of COVID-19.
As Malawi shuts its doors and tightens its borders, one can’t help but think of how differently similar actions could have prevented the rise of numbers, which has been called “troubling and astronomical” by New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo.