EAC health ministers unveil action plan to contain coronavirus spread

Saturday March 28 2020

Police officers deviating vehicles on the first day of a national lockdown in Rwanda on March 22, 2020. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


Ministers in charge of Health and East African Community Affairs in the region have issued several directives to all six partner states, regarding the coronavirus outbreak, top of which is a call for additional contingency and emergency funds to mitigate the impact of the disease in the region.

The ministers, in a video conference on Wednesday chaired by Dr Daniel Ngamije, urged the EAC Secretariat and each partner state to mobilise resources and invest in public health systems to ensure resilience and health security for all citizens. They compared notes on the pandemic.

Dr Ngamije is Rwanda’s Minister for Health and Chairperson of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health.

Top on the conference’s agenda was sharing knowledge and information on the Covid-19 outbreak, deliberate on the pandemic, map up containment strategies to stem out any further spread of the disease in the region, and to develop a clear plan for mitigating impacts caused by virus in the bloc.

The EAC has an ad hoc regional co-ordination committee on Covid-19 response.

Mandatory quarantine


Other directives include continued implementation of mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travellers to the region and to enforce strict screening procedures at all border points to avoid imported cases.

That partner states maintain the suspension of EAC regional face-to-face meetings; EAC organs and institutions utilise modern technology such as video-conferences, Webinars and Skype calls for meetings until when the situation has been contained.

They also agreed to apply multilayer mechanism to implement 100 per cent exit and entry screenings to avoid loopholes, such as transit passengers.

In a bid to facilitate free movement of goods and services in the region, the partner states should ensure vehicles carrying goods have only between two and three crew each.

These should be screened and, if found to be at high risk or positive for Covid-19, the truck be decontaminated and crew quarantined for 14 days before it is allowed to continue to its final destination.

The ministers urged truck drivers to declare their final destinations and to stop only at designated points along the transport corridors in a bid to limit chances for the Covid-19 to spread during transit.

The ministers also directed the East African Health Research Commission to synthesise and conduct research on Covid-19 and inform the partner states on new technologies, treatment, vaccines and behaviour of the virus.