Blantyre, Malawi (CNN)-As a second wave of coronavirus spreads through parts of Africa, countries across the continent are shutting down schools to control the spread of the virus.
Malawi was the latest to close schools when President Lazarus Chakwera announced that they would close for three weeks after a sharp rise in numbers.
A girls secondary school in the capital Lilongwe had 137 students who tested positive, according to local media reports.
The country had reported no cases for more than two months but now they have spiked and a third of the 353 total deaths have occurred in the past two weeks, according to John Hopkins University data.
"The time has come to enforce these things for the common good," Chakwera said in a television address on Sunday. Students in boarding schools will however remain on campus until health authorities determine whether it is safe for them to go home.
Government officials have died from the virus including Malawi's transport minister and another senior cabinet member who passed away last week.
Zimbabwe's foreign minister, Sibusiso Moyo, died on Wednesday after contracting the virus, as did South Africa's Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, on Thursday.
Chakwera said he has ordered an increase in the number of testing sites and recruited additional medical personnel, noting that the facilities in the country are terribly understaffed. The president said he has directed the Minister of Finance to allocate around $23 million as soon as possible' to meet the demands of the current disaster.
In neighboring Zambia, schools were scheduled to reopen on January 18 but this has been delayed by a further two weeks due to rising case numbers. They will now open on February 1, authorities said.
Zimbabwe, like Malawi, has only allowed examination classes to open, but under strict Covid-19 rules.