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Malawi court extends lockdown suspension

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Judge’s gavel PHOTO:Getty Images / Photodisc

Malawi’s High Court on Friday prolonged an order temporarily barring the government from implementing a 21-day lockdown despite a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

The court blocked the stay-at-home order last week after a human rights groups filed a petition against the lockdown.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) argued that the government had failed to announce any measures to cushion the poor and vulnerable.

Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda said the court would rule Wednesday on whether to sustain or dismiss the lockdown.

HRDC was granted an injunction last Friday and a judicial review was expected within seven days.

The court has not yet given reasons for its ruling.

Malawi’s confirmed coronavirus cases jumped from 23 to 33 on Thursday, including three deaths.

But those figures are likely to be underestimated as only 553 people have been tested so far.

The southern African country is one of the poorest on the continent. More than half its population live below the poverty line.

President Peter Mutharika had announced a three-week lockdown starting on April 19 and said the measure could be extended if needed.

Thousands of angry market traders marched in the capital Lilongwe and in the cities of Blantyre and Zomba after the announcement.

They vowed to disregard the lockdown, saying it would devastate workers who live hand-to-mouth.


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