PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Chipata district in Eastern Province has ordered that all people attending next week’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony at Mtenguleni village must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Speaking when Special Advisor to the President for COVID-19 Dr Roma Chilengi paid a courtesy on him at his Ephindukeni palace in Chipata, Chief Mpezeni said this year’s traditional ceremony would attract thousands of people from within and outside the country, adding that precautionary measures must be taken against the pandemic.

The Paramount Chief said over 800 headmen across all the Ngoni chiefdoms have already been sensitized on the need to have their subjects vaccinated before the ceremony next week.

“We are talking to our people to follow COVID-19 guidelines as they come to the ceremony but most importantly we are also encouraging them to get vaccinated against the disease. Over 800 headmen came to my palace last week and I directed them to tell the subjects that whoever comes to Nc’wala must be vaccinated and I believe the message has been taken to our people,” he said.

Chief Mpezeni said COVID-19 guidelines would be observed throughout the ceremony to avoid the mass spread of the disease.

He thanked government for the support rendered to the Ngoni Royal Establishment so far, on the successful hosting of this year’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony.

And Dr Chilengi said government would support the successful hosting of this year’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony by adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

He said government did not want the ceremony to be a breeding ground for the pandemic, adding that precautionary measures must be put in place before the ceremony to avoid the spread of the disease.

Dr Chilengi appealed to Chief Mpezeni to ensure that all the delegates attending the ceremony were vaccinated to minimise negative consequences from the mass gathering.

“We don’t want the Nc’wala ceremony to be an event where there will be a lot of transmissions. We want it to be a successful event where people attend in a safe manner. There are enough vaccines here in Eastern Province for people to get vaccinated, what we need is a push to make sure that the people of Eastern Province and the subjects of His Royal Highness Paramount Chief Mpezeni are encouraged to be vaccinated,” said Dr Chilengi.

Eastern Province Health Director Gideon Zulu earlier reported that Eastern Province was still recording a high number of COVID-19 cases with a daily positivity rate of about 30 percent.

He said the province currently had a cumulative number of over 300,000 COVID-19 cases with 280 deaths, since the pandemic broke out in the province.