The Minister of East African Affairs Julius Maganda Wandera Thursday addressed the press on the resolutions of the East African Community Council of Ministers about the joint efforts to fight COVID19.
The Ministers noted that as of 24th March 2020, the region has reported a total of 91 confirmed cases (Uganda: 14; Kenya: 25; Rwanda: 40; and Tanzania: 12) in 4 out of the 6 Partner States.
There were no confirmed cases from Republic of South Sudan and Republic of Burundi.
The Ministers commended the EAC Partner States, WHO and the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) for the efforts being made towards addressing the COVID19, and the steps taken to contain the disease and prevent further spread in the EAC region.
The Ministers noted the existence of an Adhoc Regional Coordination Committee on COVID -19 response and resolved to add members from each Partner States – National Task force on COVID19.
To this end the meeting directed the EAC secretariat to provide each Partner State with a four-wheel-drive vehicle fitted with laboratory and ICT equipment.
As well as all the necessary consumables for a fully functional laboratory with the capacity to conduct tests for Ebola and the coronavirus in addition to other pathogens.
Further still, as part of the regional initiatives, the Ministers Responsible for Health and Ministers responsible for East African Community Affairs made the following resolutions.
The ministers directed all Partner States to continue implementing mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travellers to the region, and avoid imported cases by implementing strict screening procedures at all border points.
They resolved to maintain suspension of EAC regional face-to-face meetings and urged EAC Organs and institutions to utilize Modern Technology such as video-conferences, Webinars & Skype for holding such meetings until such a time when the situation has been contained.
They directed all Partner States to implement 100% exit and entry screenings by applying the multilayer mechanism to avoid some loopholes, such as transit passengers.
Movement of goods
They further resolved to facilitate free movements of goods and services in the region and thus, directed all Partner States to ensure that trucks/vehicles carrying goods:
Have only 2 – 3 crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The ministers directed the Partner States to establish a surveillance system to monitor crew health and enable contact tracing and identify a focal person who is a member of the national task force to facilitate communication between the Partner States, and between the Partner States and the EAC Secretariat for the COVID response.
They directed the East African Health Research Commission to synthesize and conduct research on COVID19 and inform the Partner states on new technologies, advances in care and treatment, vaccines, behaviour of the virus, and diagnosis, among others, to inform policy.
They further 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.
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.
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 COVID19.
And further urged EAC Secretariat and each Partner State to mobilize resources, and invest in public health systems to ensure resilience and health security.