MINISTERS responsible for health in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have recommended temporary suspension of face-to-face meetings amid growing global concern over the spread of the coronavirus.
The ministers have, instead, recommended that SADC meetings should be held via teleconferences or video conferences, being measures to contain spread of the disease.
Tanzania's Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, who chaired the meeting, said the recommendation will be presented to the council of ministers for the decision.
Ms Mwalimu said the meeting was held to share information and look at how each country has engaged on national preparedness to fight the epidemic.
The recommendation comes two days before the commencement of the meeting of the SADC council of ministers in the commercial city of Dar es Salaam.
Presenting the meeting's resolutions to the media, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stegomena Tax said the ministers have mutually agreed to declare the coronavirus the public health emergence.
The meeting also commended measures taken by China and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to contain the outbreak.
The ministers further called for national preparedness and contingent funds for preparedness activities and treatment. They also sounded the need for extensive public education on the epidemic.
The meeting was held under urgency with the ministers spending the whole day discussing on coronavirus outbreak.
Among other agenda, the ministers looked at situation analysis of Covid 19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Already some African countries, including South Africa which is one of SADC member states, have reported cases of the disease.
Tanzania's Deputy Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister Dr Damas Ndumbaro clarified that SADC citizens in China were safe.
He criticised those who believe that Corona is only from China, noting that cases that were reported in some African countries originated out of China."Let not look at China only, but all countries," Dr Ndumbaro stated.
He said Tanzanians in China and other citizens from SADC region are safe because China has managed to control new infections of the disease.
"The important thing for us SADC countries is to start preparedness measures to ensure that our level of preparedness to contain the disease is high," Dr Ndumbaro said.