Mutharika announces Covid-19 program targeting over 800,000 people 

…says people’s movement will be restricted after new measures are implemented

President Peter Mutharika says government has introduced a cash transfer programme in which households will be given K35,000 per month, with over 800,000 people set to benefit.

Mutharika revealed this in a statement on Tuesday night about Coronavirus measures to be implemented.

He said the Emergency Cash Transfer Program will serve small scale businesses in and around our major markets in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba and others.

According to Mutharika, it is an extended cash transfer facility to support Malawians who depend on the markets for their survival and government will target a minimum of 172,000 households in the urban areas, which represent an estimated 35 percent of the urban population.

Under the program, each identified household will be paid electronically through mobile payments K35,000 per month. This will happen for six months – three months of response and 3 months of recovery.

“Considering family size of around 5 people based on the 2018 Household Census, this will translate to just under a million people who will be reached with this measure.

“I have, therefore, directed the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Population and Social Welfare to devise an implementation process which will include registration of households in the hotspot areas and its immediate implementation beginning the month of May 2020,” said Mutharika.

He added that Government will also provide cash top-up to existing beneficiaries of Mtukula Pakhomo Program in all the 28 Districts.

The Malawi leader expressed hope that this will strengthen livelihood interventions aimed at minimizing negative coping mechanisms for the poor.

Another new measure the president announced is the restructuring of the Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus which will now be called the Presidential Taskforce on Coronavirus.

The taskforce will be co-chaired by a Cabinet Minister and a Professor in Public Health. It will directly report to the Malawi leader.

Members of the taskforce will include leader of opposition, Chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee, a senior chief and representatives of other sectors.

On milestones in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Mutharika said government has now opened institutional isolation centers and treatment centers in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

“So far, we have been treating patients with mild symptoms in their homes. But we will now start taking people to isolation and treatment centers. Our strategy is to trace, test and treat,” he said.

Mutharika also mentioned recruitment of 2000 health workers and procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the healthcare workers.

“In short, we will do everything we can to fight this pandemic. Our strength is not in our resources. Our strength lies in our spirit of unity and resolve to fight,” he said

On the lockdown which was blocked by an injunction granted by a court in Lilongwe, Mutharika said government will proceed to do what is necessary to save lives as circumstances warrant.

He added that government will implement the new measures announced Tuesday and after that will proceed to restrict movement of people.

In Malawi, 36 coronavirus cases have been recorded and there have been five recoveries as well as three deaths.