US adds Malawi on 'Do Not Travel' list over COVID-19

US Travel

The Joe Biden administration in the United States has added eight additional countries including Malawi that it advises its nationals not to travel to because of concerns about the continuing spread of the coronavirus there, the State Department announced on Tuesday.

The eight countries are Bhutan, Botswana, Malawi, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

"This week, the following Travel Advisories have been assessed and reissued to a Level-4 Not Travel," the State Department said in a media note.

Malawi closed its borders except for essential goods transporters, deportees, diplomats, those who hold Malawian resident permits, cabin crew and members of organisations intending to support or implement COVID-19 interventions among others.

As part of its Level three response to ensure the country suppresses the further spread of Coronavirus in communities,  the Malawi government announced new COVID-19 measures on Wednesday.

Some of the measures are a mandatory 50 percent of the staff at a shift if not working from home, with employees at high-risk of severe disease such as those aged 60-year-old and above and people with comorbidities should work from home.

Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19  Khumbize Chiponda disclosed that the Emergency Operation Centre on COVID-19 (EOC) has been closely monitoring the trend of the pandemic in the country and witnessed an increase in the new cases, admissions and deaths since 1st June 2021.

A curfew from 22.00 to 06.00hrs has since been imposed with physical indoor meetings discouraged while encouraging virtual and outdoor meetings.

Hospitality and recreation businesses have to decongest their places by reducing the number of people at the same time by 50 percent capacity, limiting the contact time inside business places, measures like increasing the number of cashiers / bank tellers / till operators to limit the time in the shop and queuing time and increasing opening hours.

Take away or deliveries should be encouraged in bars and restaurants, outdoor sitting together with restaurants to open 06.00 to 22.00hrs.

In markets, vendors should stay at their stand or a fixed position and not walk about to solicit customers.

Sporting activities to adhere to 100 people including players and officials with no spectators allowed.

There is a restriction of 50 people indoors and 100 guests outdoors for weddings and engagements, and the ceremony should take less than one hour.

No vigil or overnight service prayers for all funerals not particular to COVID-19 deaths and burial should take place within 48 hours or timelines stipulated in COVID-19 burial guidelines.

For schools and education institutions, those affected should be closed with a cluster of cases for 14 Days with screening for all learners or students upon re-opening.