Malawi Vice-President Saulos Chilima wants his supporters to literally embrace backers of other parties that he’s formed an alliance with.
He has come under fire for his remarks as there are warnings that this could encourage the spread of coronavirus.
Mr Chilima is Lazarus Chakwera’s running mate in a presidential election re-run that is expected in July. In the cancelled election they ran against each other.
To ease suspicion Mr Chilima wanted his supporters to hug the backers of Mr Chakwera.
He said that “no disease would catch them”.
Mr Chilima has been criticised online.
“The coronavirus is real, and political leaders need to take a lead in encouraging their supporters to adhere to practices that can reduce or impede its spread,” Stanley Onjezani Kenani wrote on Facebook.
“Why are you surprised? Same person told Malawians to refuse lockdown. He (Chilima) doesn’t care about people,” wrote Bonwell Phiri.
His remarks are against the World Heath Organization guidelines for social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Malawi has 65 confirmed cases of Covid-19.