A Malawi lawmaker who had reported COVID-19 or coronavirus infection has passed away, the speaker’s office confirmed on Friday.

Last week, Cornelius Mwalwanda, a member of the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had posted on social media about his testing COVID-19 positive.

In a brief statement, Malawi Parliament Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara announced the death of lawmaker.

Three lawmakers over the past week were hospitalized after testing positive which forced the speaker to urge all 193 members of parliament to go for voluntary testing.

The statement added that Mwalwanda died at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital, Lilongwe.

Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda, told local news outlet Nyasa Times that Mwalwanda was “recently hospitalized and died suddenly”

Mwalwanda’s political rival, Frank Mwenifumbo who also tested positive for COVID-19 and is likely going to replace him in a by-election for the seat, said “my thoughts and condolences are with the family at this difficult and distressing time”.

In the past two weeks, Malawi a landlocked country in southeastern Africa has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases by over 40% with the number of confirmed cases rising to 2,716. The country has also recorded 51 deaths.

In the past 24 hours, the country has reported 102 new cases.

The sharp rise in the number of cases has been attributed to the June 23 court-sanctioned presidential election re-run where thousands of Malawians ignored health measures and social distancing rules to attend political rallies.

Experts also blame people, who returned from foreign countries mainly from South Africa responsible for the spike in pandemic cases. As of July 12, more than 1,900 people arrived in the country form, South Africa.

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