Covid-19: EA states to enforce strict screening rules at borders

Thursday March 26 2020

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Patients get screened for high temperature before they enter the health facility. Photo | Cyril NDEGEYA  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Health ministers from the six East Africa Community member states have resolved to enforce strict screening procedures at all border points in a bid to contain Covid-19 and curb further spread of the disease in the region.

A joint virtual meeting of ministers responsible for health and east African community affairs held on March 25 directed all partner states to implement common surveillance system to monitor health of crew members of trucks, cargo planes and vessels, and enable contact tracing.

Specifically, the meeting resolved to limit the number of crew numbers per every truck and vehicle carrying goods to only two or three, who must be screened and quarantined if found at risk or positive for covid-19.

According to the new guidelines, truck crew members are required to declare their final destination prior to departure, and are allowed to stop only at designated points along the transport corridors so as to limit the spread of the virus during transit.

“Crew members found to be at high risk or positive for covid-19, the trucks 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 national guidelines,” reads one of the meeting resolutions.

The ministers also resolved that the crew for cargo planes and vessels to the region will be quarantined at a government designated hotel for the period of their stay.

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So far, except for Burundi and South Sudan, all other East African members states reported coronavirus cases, and have since embarked on separate restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

The four EA countries namely Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya reported a combined total of 91 covid-19 cases as at March 24, and the numbers continue rising.

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