Covid-19: SADC suspends face to face meetings

By ZBC Reporter
Southern African Development Community (SADC) health ministers this Monday held an extraordinary meeting where they boosted preparations and organised a coordinated response to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus across the African continent.
The extraordinary meeting was held in Tanzania. Health officials from the SADC bloc agreed that Member states should establish a coherent mechanism of sharing information on issues of transboundary public health concern and that the technical committee for coordinating and monitoring the Implementation of SADC Protocol on health comprising of directors of public health and directors of medical Services be re-established, and its terms of reference be expanded.
The meeting also recommended a temporary suspension of SADC regional face to face meetings and encouraged utilisation of modern technology such as Teleconferences, Webinars and Skype Calls as a media for holding such meetings. The suspension is for two months.
The SADC ministerial meeting also called for the institution of Peer Review Mechanisms among member states to validate self-assessment reports on readiness and requested international cooperating partners to support them in the development and implementation of country plans, as well as in resource mobilisation for health-related infrastructure development.
The meeting further urged Member states to align country plans to continental strategies and utilise the existing technical structures such as the Africa CDC Regional Coordinating Team (RCT) in Zambia and WHO.
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So far, nine African countries have recorded 80 confirmed cases of the disease.
The number of people worldwide who have been infected with the coronavirus has passed 90,000. More than 3,000 have died since the outbreak began in December. The vast majority of cases, more than 80,000 have occurred in China, but around the world 60 other countries are now also dealing with outbreaks. Many nations are preparing for a global pandemic, as reports of cases caused by spread within communities rather than being imported from China rise.
More people have now died from the new coronavirus than during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.