The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has moved to intensify efforts against Coronavirus spread by deploying mobile laboratories and testing kits in partner states as regional ministers for health met to deliberate on the pandemic.
The Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health held a video conference to swiftly augment containment strategies to prevent and stop any further spread of the deadly disease in the region.
The meeting comes on the back of confirmed COVID-19 cases in four out of six EAC partner states, with the affected states embarking on a number of strategies to address the outbreak at national level.
Rwanda was the most hit nation in East Africa after reporting 36 cases, followed by Kenya (15 cases), Tanzania (12 cases) and Uganda nine cases.
Uganda had reported just one case until Monday this week but after 35 samples were tested eight proved to be positive.
All eight new cases are Ugandan nationals who travelled back from Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Two on March 20 and six on March 22 aboard the Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines flights.
The Senior Public Relations Officer at the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department with the EAC Secretariat, Mr Peter Owaka said at EAC Arusha Headquarters that each partner state will receive a four-wheel vehicle.
The vehicles are fitted with laboratory and ICT equipment, as well as all the necessary consumables for a fully functional laboratory with the capacity to conduct tests for Ebola and the coronavirus in addition to other pathogens.
The EAC Secretariat has also put in place a Regional Coordination Committee (RCC) with Risk Communication and community engagement; Policy and Guidelines; Finance and Logistics and Data and Statistics sub-committees to oversee the regional COVID-19 response.
The Regional Coordination Committee has already set in motion a number of activities to secure the EAC Organs and Institutions, and support the partner states in battling the virus.
Efforts to contain the spread of the dreadful virus by the regional body comes at the time when each of the East African member state steps up measures to fight the pandemic.
Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi have suspended international flights, with Burundi going the extra mile by suspending even domestic flights.
On Sunday President John Magufuli announced that with effect from Monday the government would put all visitors and Tanzanians arriving from the high risk countries under quarantine at their own expenses for 14 days.
Last week, the Tanzania government closed all primary, secondary, colleges and universities for a period of 30 days.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania Tel Aviv, Israel.