East Africa: EA Health Ministers Draw Covid - 1 9 Mitigation Plan

THE East African Community Ministers Responsible for Health Affairs shared existing knowledge and information on the COVID-19 outbreak as the region reports 90 confirmed cases.

Reading the communiqué, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalilmu said they deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic and mapped up containment strategies to stem out any further spread of the disease in the region.

They also developed a clear plan to mitigate against impacts caused by COVID -19 pandemic in the region.

The ministers commended the EAC Partner States, WHO and Africa CDC for the efforts being made towards addressing the COVID-19, and the steps taken to contain the disease and prevent further spread in the EAC region.

They noted the existence of an ad hoc Regional Coordination Committee on COVID -19 responses and resolved to add members from each Partner States - National Task force on COVID -19.

The Ministers Responsible for Health and Ministers responsible for East African Community Affairs 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 also resolved on 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.

Moreover, they directed all Partner States to implement 100 per cent exit and entry screenings by applying the multilayer mechanism to avoid some loopholes, such as transit passengers.

Furthermore, they resolved to facilitate free movements of goods and services in the region as member states directed to ensure that trucks / vehicles carrying goods have only 2 - 3 crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing in the region.

They said it must be ensured crew members are in good health and in case any 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 continue to its final destination and the crew members will be quarantined for 14 days according to the set national guidelines.

In the event that the crew is quarantined while in transit, the communiqué agreed that truck owners and operators should make necessary arrangements to backup crews to ensure that goods 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" read the communiqué in part.

"The crew for cargo planes and vessels will be determined by the specifications of the aircraft or ship and set international guidelines as the crew will be quarantined at a government designated hotel for the period of their stay," another section of the communiqué.

They also 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.

They further 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- 19 response.

The East African Health Research Commission ( EAHRC ) has been directed to synthesize and conduct research on COVID -19 and inform the Partner States on new technologies, advances in care and treatment, vaccines, behaviour of the virus, diagnostic among others, to inform policy and practice in the region.

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