The country’s main media body MISA Malawi has said it has engaged the authorities to ensure the recently gazetted rules to help contain the further spread of the pandemic do not affect operations of journalists.
MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga observed that the 9 pm-5 am curfew, under the recently gazetted COVID-19 containment rules, has the potential to put journalists in conflict with the law hence the decision to engage the authorities.
We are calling upon all journalists to ensure that they possess and always carry with them a valid Media Council of Malawi (MCM) Accreditation or Employment Identity Card at all times,
Ndanga further said MISA Malawi had made the move to engage the Malawi Police Service after noticing the new rules have the potential to affect operations of journalists.
“The police have assured us that journalists, by the nature of their work, will be treated as those belonging to the essential services group as long as they have IDs and/or demonstrate proof of work,” said Ndanga.
The media is among essential services under Schedule 7 of the rules.
She expressed hope that the law enforcement agencies and officers would ensure that media freedom, freedom of expression and right to information are safeguarded during the period of implementation of the COVID-19 containment rules.
The new COVID-19 prevention, containment and management rules stipulate that no person must be found wandering around socially between 9pm and 5am.
She has since appealed that all journalists should adhere to the COVID-19 containment rules and work together with security officers on duty, where necessary.
“We urge journalists and the media in general to utilize this opportunity to provide accurate and credible information as we all strive to contain the pandemic,” said Ndanga.
She further appealed for media houses to help in fighting fake news around the pandemic and create a positive narrative that gives hope while underscoring the importance of strict adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures.
Ndanga observed that as media professionals go about their business, they are at risk and should thus ensure strict observance to all COVID-19 preventive measures.
“Whenever need arise, we urge them to quickly seek medical and psychosocial support,” she said.
Malawi continues to record increased cases of COVID-19 with yesterday, 19th January, seeing over 800 cases being recorded in 24 hours.
So far, government has put in place contingent measures to minimise casualties and maximize quality of care for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has announced that schools will close for three weeks but boarding schools will remain open.
He also said other places such as the Zomba State Lodge and the Bingu Stadium will be opened as COVID-19 care facilities in the event of a need for further hospitalization in different parts of the country.