Malawians return home after being stuck in foreign countries
RUSTENBURG - Hundreds of Malawian nationals who were stranded in foreign countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic returned home at the weekend, local media reported.
News website Malawi24 said five buses carrying 285 nationals coming from South Africa arrived on Saturday through a government repatriation programme. A sixth bus broke down in Mozambique and would resume its journey once fixed.
The Nation newspaper reported that two planes that also brought Malawians back home were forced to circle the Kamuzu International Airport several times before landing. Reports said this was due to protesting airport workers who blocked the runway.
The workers were reportedly demanding personal protective equipment and increased risk allowances.
The first plane from South Africa carried 147 passengers while the second, with about 50 passengers, was an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft.
Last week about 500 people returning from South Africa who were tested at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre escaped before getting their results.
Blantyre district director of health and social services Dr. Gift Kawalazira told The Nation that the people left the stadium on Tuesday. The previous day, eight other people who had tested positive for Covid-19 escaped. Two of them resurfaced at the Kameza isolation centre, also in Blantyre, on Wednesday.
Twenty-six other returning residents escaped from the Mwanza Border Post while awaiting their test results last week.
President Peter Mutharika had planned a 21-day national lockdown from midnight April 18 to May 9 as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 but the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition obtained a court order against the move.
According to The Nation, most of the Covid-19 cases recorded in Malawi have been imported from countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania with only a few local transmissions.
Malawi reported its first Covid-19 cases on April 2 and has so far had 284, with four deaths and 25 recoveries.
African News Agency