While much of the world labours under strict coronavirus lockdowns, Malawi has bucked the trend after a court blocked attempts to restrict its population’s movements — much to the relief of some residents.
“Had the lockdown been implemented, we would certainly have died of hunger and not coronavirus,” second-hand clothes seller Thom Minjala said after hearing of the case.
Malawi has so far confirmed just 17 cases, including two deaths, but President Peter Mutharika has warned that without locking down the country, the virus could kill around 50,000.
Most Malawians live on less than a dollar a day, scraping together wages through informal trades or low-earning odd jobs.
Shortly after Mutharika announced the lockdown on Tuesday, scores of individual traders took to the streets in protest. T
he Human Rights Defenders Coalition went to court and secured a seven-day order stopping the lockdown, accusing the government of a “haphazard approach”.
Meanwhile, the government’s concern is that the virus will continue spreading.
“In the seven days that the judge has given for the inter-parties hearing, he did not issue an order against the virus to stop spreading,” state attorney-general Kalekeni Kaphale, told local media at the weekend.