Coronavirus: SADC plans to hold meetings by video

10Mar 2020
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
Coronavirus: SADC plans to hold meetings by video

HEALTH ministers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have recommended the temporary suspension of face-to-face meetings in SADC activities due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu.

The ministers have instead recommended SADC meetings be held via teleconference or video to avoid spreading the disease.

Ummy Mwalimu, the minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children who chaired the meeting, said the ministers recommended the temporary suspension of face-to-face meetings.

The recommendation will be presented to the wider council of ministers for a formal decision to be taken, she said.

The recommendation was made yesterday two days ahead of the SADC council of ministers in Dar es Salaam.

Health ministers were meeting to share information and look at how each country was preparing to fight the global pandemic, she said. 

Presenting the meeting's resolutions to the media, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said the ministers have mutually agreed to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency.

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 a contingent fund for preparedness measures and treatment.

They similarly sounded out on the need for extensive public education on the pandemic, having met as a matter of urgency, spending a whole day to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

Among other agenda, the ministers peered over the latest situation analysis of Covid 19 by the WHO Secretariat.

The ministers' meeting was held as some African countries have already reported cases of the disease, including South Africa, also a SADC member.

Dr Damas Ndumbaro , the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, clarified that SADC citizens in China were safe.

He objected to those who believe that the coronavirus was spreading only from China, noting that  cases that were reported in some African countries originated out of China.

"Let us not look only China alone but at all sorts of countries," he emphasized.

He said Tanzanians in China and other citizens from SADC countries are safe because China has managed to control new infections of the disease.

"The important thing for us as SADC countries is to start preparedness measures to ensure that our level of preparedness to contain the disease is high," he added.

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