Published On: Fri, Mar 27th, 2020

East Africa – Regional Health Ministers issue decisive measures on COVID19.

As positive cases of COVID19  surge in East Africa, the EAC member states met on Wednesday to explore regional coordination efforts to contain the pandemic and take measures against the spread of the virus across the Eastern Africa borders.

Regional coordination given the porous borders in East Africa it is hoped will be one of the steps to curb the spread of Corona from country to country.  An adhoc regional coordination committee will foresee the regional efforts.

The ministers agreed to take the following decisive measures and committed to each adhering to the direction.

The Ministers Responsible for Health and Ministers responsible for East African Community Affairs:

a)      directed all Partner States to continue implementing mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travelers to the region, and avoid imported cases by implementing strict screening procedures at all border points;

b)     resolved maintained suspension of EAC regional face-to-face meetings and urged EAC Organs and institutions to utilize Modern Technology such as video-conferences, Webinars and Skype Calls for holding such meetings until such a time when the situation has been contained.

c)      Directed all Partner States to implement 100% exit and entry screenings by applying the multilayer mechanism to avoid some loopholes, such as transit Passengers;

d)     Resolved to facilitate free movements of goods and services in the region;

e)      Directed all Partner States to ensure that trucks / vehicles carrying goods:

    1. Have only 2 – 3 crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region;

    2. Crew members are in good health, crew are screened and found to be at high risk or positive for COVID-19, the truck will be decontaminated before it is allowed to continues to its final destination and the crew members will be quarantined for 14 days according to the set national guidelines;

    3. In the event that the crew are quarantined while in transit, truck owners / operators make necessary arrangements to backup crew to ensure that good are delivered to the intended destination;

    4. Truck drivers are required to declare their final destination and are urged to stop only at designated points along the transport corridors so as to limit chances of spread of COVID-19 during transit;

    5. The crew for cargo planes and vessels will be determined by the specifications of the aircraft or ship and set international guidelines. The crew will be quarantined at a government designated hotel for the period of their stay;

f)       Directed the Partner States to establish a surveillance system to monitor crew health and enable contact tracing;

g)      Resolved to strengthen information sharing through press conferences and linkage of national task forces to facilitate quick response, continuous reporting and to facilitate contact tracing for potential COVID- 19 exposed persons;

h)     Directed partner states to identify a focal person who is a member of the national task force to facilitate communication between the Partner States, and between Partner States and the EAC Secretariat for the COVID response;

i)        Directed the EAHRC to synthesize and conduct research on COVID -19 and inform the Partner states on new technologies, advances in care and treatment, vaccines, behavior of the virus, diagnostic among others, to inform policy and practice in the region;

j)        Directed respective EAC Partner States’ Embassies and High commissions to coordinate their citizens who may have been affected by the closure of borders and to enable them move to their final destination in the EAC region;

k)      Directed partner States to support local companies, to ensure the local production and availability of key consumables / products used in COVID -19 response including Hand sanitizers, medical products, soap, among others; and

l)        Directed all Partner States to provide additional contingency and emergency funds to address gaps in prevention, impact mitigation and other interventions to mitigate impact of COVID -19 and further urged EAC Secretariat and each Partner State to mobilize resources, and invest in public health systems to ensure resilience and health security

Source: EAC

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