East Africa: Covid-19 - EAC Deploys Stringent Measures

THE East African Community (EAC) member states have come up with more stringent measures to contain coronavirus, including 100 per cent screening of passengers exiting and entering the country.

Ministers responsible for Health and East Africa Community (EAC) affairs from the six member states, who via a video conference on Wednesday, directed all partner states to implement mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travellers to the region at all border points.

With more than 90 cases of COVID-19 in the region, the ministers ordered the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC) 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.

Respective EAC partner states' embassies and High Commissions have also been ordered to coordinate to their citizens, who may have been affected by the closure of borders to enable them move to their final destination in the EAC region.

As for production and business activities, the ministers resolved that partner states should support local companies to ensure local production and availability of key consumables and products used in COVID -19 response including hand sanitizers, medical products and soap, among others.

The ministers 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 urge EAC Secretariat and each member state to mobilize resources and invest in public health systems to ensure resilience and health security.

Equally, the ministers directed member states to facilitate free movements of goods and services in the region and that trucks and vehicles carrying goods must have only two to three crew members per vehicle to facilitate smooth border crossing to avoid spread of the deadly disease.

The crews for cargo planes and vessels will be determined by the specifications of the aircraft or ship and set international guidelines.

The crews will be quarantined at a government designated hotel during the period of their stay.

"The crew members should be in good health, screened and if found to be at high risk or positive for COVID-19, the truck should be decontaminated before it is allowed to continue to its final destination and that the crew members will be quarantined for 14 days, according to the set national guidelines," read the statement issued by the Community Secretariat yesterday in Arusha.

The ministers further ordered that in the event the crews are quarantined while in transit, truck owners or operators must make necessary arrangements to backup crew to ensure the goods are delivered to the intended destination.

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

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