Four senior political figures in Malawi have died from Covid-19 just days after Madonna visited the country and met the president unmasked as part of a trip that saw her visit five countries in three weeks.
Local Government Minister Lingson Berekanyama and Transport Minister Sidik Mia both succumbed to the disease in the early hours of Tuesday.
The former Governor of Malawi’s central bank, Francis Perekamoyo, and the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Ernest Kantchentche, have also died.
It comes after several members of the government were infected at a meeting in the president’s office on December 21 that was attended by all 31 members of cabinet.
The following day labour minister Ken Kandodo tested positive, but he has since recovered. Another minister, Rashid Gaffar, is self-isolating at home.
Malawi’s Transport Minister Sidik Mia (pictured) has died from Covid-19 as infections rise in the southeastern African nation
Madonna (pictured) has visited Malawi as part of a worldwide holiday, meeting with political figures and often seen unmasked
On Monday, the southeastern African nation recorded 452 new Covid cases and 10 new deaths, the highest daily average since the first case was confirmed in April.
The resurgence in infections has seen 30 per cent of confirmed cases registered in the past two weeks alone.
Malawi has so far recorded more than 9,000 cases of Covid-19 and 235 deaths.
But in spite of the rising cases in Malawi and across much of the world, the Queen of Pop has clocked up 11,707 air miles jetting from Los Angeles to London then to Africa as part of a lavish winter trip.
The singer, 62, has been accompanied on the getaway by her boyfriend, American backing dancer Ahlamalik Williams, 26.
While on her trip to Malawi, Madonna met with the President Lazarus Chakwera (pictured)
She was also joined for much of the trip by five of her children.
They spent a week in Malawi where they met with President Lazarus Chakwera, mixed with locals and visited a hospital which Madonna founded.
The government figures who died on Wednesday were members of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main partner in an alliance that delivered victory to President Chakwera last year.
Mia had even been tipped as a possible successor to Chakwera.
‘We are paying the price because many of us are back to the old ways of not wearing masks,’ the president said in an address to the nation on Sunday.
‘When I say many of us, I am including myself and all of us who are working in government,’ he added.
Madonna (pictured in Kenya this week) has reportedly visited five countries in just three weeks clocking up a massive 11,707 air miles, despite Covid travel bans
The singer, 62, has been accompanied on the getaway by her boyfriend, American backing dancer Ahlamalik Williams, 26 (pictured together in Kenya this week, left). Right: Madonna’s eldest son Rocco is seen drinking tea while on holiday
‘It (coronavirus) has now infected all sectors of society, including members of parliament, members of cabinet, members of the media, and members of the clergy.’
Malawi’s government was barred from implementing a lockdown last year after a high court ruled the restrictions would unfairly impact the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
There are currently no limits on movement or gatherings. Face masks are encouraged but not mandatory.
Travellers arriving in Malawi and Kenya do not have to quarantine as long as they have negative coronavirus tests.
MailOnline has contacted a representative for Madonna for comment.
What travel restrictions are in place in Malawi?
- All nationalities can travel to Malawi by air for business or leisure, but they must have a negative Covid test
- Passengers arriving without valid documentation are required to provide samples for testing and isolate for 14 days
- Following a surge in cases, land borders were closed to all but citizens and residents in late December
- Airports remain open
All four of Madonna’s adopted children hail from Malawi, and the singer has been spending time in their home country, which she calls her ‘home away from home’.
She capped off her week in Malawi with her four youngest children by visiting the Jacaranda School for Orphans near Blantyre.
The Queen of Pop was officially at the school to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Madame X Dance Studio.
Madge proudly posed beside the sign at the studio – which was paid for through non-profit organisation Raising Malawi – which she co-founded with Michael Berg in 2006.
Her youngest – Stella and Estere – were adopted from Malawi at the start of 2017.
They lived in the Home of Hope orphanage in Mchinji for two years before their adoption.
When asked what drew her to her kids, Madonna said: ‘It’s inexplicable. Why do you fall in love with the people you fall in love with?’ You look into the eyes of somebody, you feel their soul, you feel touched by them — that’s it.’