Sadc health Ministers to meet over COVID-19
Harare (New Ziana) –Health Ministers from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) will meet next week in Tanzania to discuss ways to effectively deal with COVID-19 which has now spread to the sub-region.
The meeting comes in the wake of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the sub-region after a South Africa man tested positive for the deadly virus on Thursday.
The patient had recently returned from Italy, one of the European countries hardest affected by the virus.
The Sadc secretariat confirmed the meeting to be held in Dar es Salaam.
“SADC Ministers of Health will convene on March 9, 2020 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss and agree on how to enhance communication between member states on information exchange regarding prevention, early detection and control of the Covid-19,” read a tweet from the Sadc secretariat.
It has taken more than two months for the virus to reach Southern Africa, having originated in China late last year.
Continent wide, the African Union (AU) has set up the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR) to coordinate preparedness and responses to COVID-19 across the continent.
The task force was set up following an emergency ministerial meeting of African health ministers held last month as part of continental initiatives to enhance capacity to rapidly detect, and respond to Covid-19.
At the AU meeting, the ministers discussed strategies to better prepare and respond to any new cases of the virus on the continent, the need for a common approach to receiving African students and citizens wishing to return from China and sharing knowledge and information about experimental drugs, vaccines and clinical trials currently being undertaken for the control of COVID-19.
AFCOR is led by representatives of member states and has five priority areas including surveillance, infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, clinical management of persons with severe corona virus-2019 infection, risk communication and community engagement.
Other African countries with confirmed cases include Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and Algeria.
In readiness to fight the virus in case it spreads to Zimbabwe, the government has put in place tight COVID-19 monitoring systems and state of the art testing, quarantine and treatment facilities.
So far, only two suspected cases have been quarantined but their test results have returned negative.
As additional safety measures, the government has now made it a requirement for travellers coming from affected countries to produce health certificates certifying that they are free of the virus before being granted entry into Zimbabwe.
Also, the government has barred all civil servants from travelling outside Africa, where Covid-19 is more prevalent, and urged citizens to desist from unnecessary travel.