Two Malawian ministers die of Covid-19 on same day

This morning alone, Covid-19’s crusade of death claimed the lives of two high-ranking government officials, Honorables Lingson Belekanyama and Muhammad Sidik Mia, who were serving in my Cabinet as Ministers of Local Government and Transport respectively. 



Malawi's transport minister, Muhammad Sidik Mia and Local government minister Lingson Belekenyama died from Covid-19 on today Tuesday, the government said, by Diramakini Reporter (Lilongwe).

The two are the highest ranking public officials so far to succumb to the virus in Malawi.

"We have entered the eye of the pandemic,"President Lazarus Chakwera said during an address to the nation on today.

Sidik Mia, 56, tested positive late last week and was isolating at home with mild symptoms.

The minister, who was also vice president of the ruling Malawi Congress Party, passed away Tuesday morning.

Local government minister Lingson Belekanyama also succumbed to the disease after a two-week illness.

The start of this new year 11 days ago, the number of people confirmed to be newly infected has exceeded 2500, pushing the total number of confirmed cases past 9000, of which more than 7000 have been local transmissions. 

While we thank the mercy of God and the efforts of our health workers for the recovery of close to 6000 people so far, we nonetheless and understandably mourn the deaths of over 235 of our compatriots. 

The fact that over 20 percent of these deaths, approaching 50 in number, have occurred in the eleven days of this new year alone is not only devastating, but an indication that we have entered the eye of this pandemic’s storm. 

In fact, this new wave of the coronavirus has resulted in death among us every day of this year except one. 

This morning alone, Covid-19’s crusade of death claimed the lives of two high-ranking government officials, Honorables Lingson Belekanyama and Muhammad Sidik Mia, who were serving in my Cabinet as Ministers of Local Government and Transport respectively. 

We all feel this as an incalculable loss and our grief and devastation in the wake of these deaths cannot be measured. May I ask that we all stand and observe a moment of silence.May their souls rest in peace.

In view of the souls we have lost to Covid-19 and the rising tide of the pandemic’s rampage against all of us, I have issued a number of directives in exercise of powers bestowed upon me by the Constitution of Malawi:

1. I have directed the Secretary to the President and Cabinet to ensure that all national flags fly at half-mast across the country in observance of a three-day period of national mourning for the government officials and citizens we have lost to this pandemic.


2. In accordance with Section 32(1) of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act (1991), I declare a state of national disaster in respect of all the districts of the country with effect from today, 12th January, 2021.


I, therefore, appeal for more assistance from the international community, relevant United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector for uncommon contributions towards the resources needed to meet the present challenge of the pandemic. 

Such donations in cash or in-kind should be sent to the Commissioner of Disaster Management Affairs in my office, on Private Bag 336, Lilongwe 3.

This declaration of a state of national disaster is but a first step towards a possible declaration of a state of emergency subject to consultation with and approval from the Defense and Security Committee of the National Assembly as stipulated in Section 45 of the Constitution. 

3. I have called for an emergency meeting of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, which has thus far done a commendable job of providing expert guidance on our fight against the spread of this virus. 

The emergency meeting will explore additional measures to be effected immediately in view of my declaration of a state of national disaster across the country. Additionally, that meeting will establish a method for measuring and declaring the shifting severity of the pandemic by the use of numerical levels, with preventive and curative measures stipulated for each level to guide public awareness and behavior.

I want to assure you all that the full weight and authority of my office will be brought to bear on the Taskforce’s interventions and regular public updates on what has been done, what is being done, and what is yet to be done in our fight against this invisible enemy. 

This taskforce has my full support and participation, and I expect that it will have the full cooperation of all citizens.

4. I have directed the Ministers of Health, Homeland Security, Education, Civic Education, Local Government, Justice, and Information to work together with the Vice-President in reviewing our Covid-19 guidelines for curbing the spread of the virus and recommend to the Covid-19 Taskforce under my command any amendments to be made to those guidelines and the enforcement of the same.

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