AT least 64 people have been arrested in connection with the misuse of funds meant to fight the coronavirus in Malawi, police said on Wednesday.
About $7.95 million had been put towards the country’s Covid-19 response.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) spokesperson James Kadadzera said three more people, including a senior procurement officer at the Blantyre District Council, were arrested on Monday.
He said the arrested people would face charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, making a false document and contravening the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.
The police traced people who allegedly abused the Covid-19 funds, after an audit report ordered by President Lazarus Chakwera (pictured) revealed that government officers and the private sector had misspent about $1.3 million of the funds through procurement and allowances irregularities.
He ordered the audit in February after the media reported that the Covid-19 funds were being abused.
Chakwera cracked the whip on Covid-19 fund looters, sacking Labour Minister Ken Kandodo.
Kandodo reportedly borrowed about $760 from the Covid-19 funds to use as his allowance when he accompanied Chakwera on his first official visit to South Africa in November last year.
Chakwera said that even though Kandodo had returned the money, he could not have him in his cabinet.
Meanwhile, Malawi has banned travel to South-East Asia in fear of importation on a new variant of the novel coronavirus.
In a statement, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said they have noted heavy traffic of travellers to and from the Indian subcontinent and neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as evidence of a Covid-19-positive case that arrived in the country from India in the past week.
All but essential arrivals and travel, such as diplomatic and medical travel, are restricted. The same restriction extends to Brazil, she said.
Those travelling from South-East Asian countries would be subjected to mandatory institutional quarantine at designated hotel accommodation at their own cost on arrival in Malawi.
They should also be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result or certificate for a test conducted no more than 72 hours before arrival in Malawi.
India has recorded more than 17 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 200,000 related deaths. It ranks second highest in with world for Covid-19 cases. Brazil is third with more than 14 million cases and over 395,000 deaths.
Pakistan has recorded more than 800,000 cases, with over 17,000 deaths, while Bangladesh has recorded more than 754,000 cases, with 11,000 deaths.