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EAC Secretariat builds Partner States' capacities for diagnosis of the novel Corona Virus

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 20 February, 2020; The EAC Secretariat just finalised an intensive training programme for laboratory experts to detect and diagnose the new novel corona virus (COVID-19) in the East African Community region.

The training was conducted under the EAC Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases (Mobile Labs Programme) in collaboration with the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM). The programme is part of the financial support provided to the EAC Region by the German Development Bank (KfW) on behalf of Federal Republic of Germany. The training aimed at building capacity in the region to detect COVID-19

The EAC Secretariat further acquired diagnostic kits for the novel corona virus that will be distributed among the EAC Partner States soon after the training as part of the regional preparedness plan against COVID-19.

Until 19 February 2020 in China alone more than 74,000 people were infected and over 2,000 died of the disease. 25 countries outside China confirmed cases of COVID-19; 12 of these countries reported cases of human-to-human virus transmission. As of Feb 11, Africa did not have any confirmed cases, but suspected patients have been quarantined in Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and Botswana, according to WHO. However, on 14 February Egypt reported the first confirmed case on the continent.

The Acting Head of Health Department at the EAC Secretariat, Dr Michael Katende, says: “The Secretariat provided the training in an effort to enable all EAC Partner States to detect and diagnose the novel corona virus promptly and thereby avoiding its spread”. He further emphasized that this initiative is in response to WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus. The objectives of the plan are to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries that would be most vulnerable if they faced an outbreak, to identify, isolate and care for patients early, communicate critical risk and event information, minimize social and economic impact, reduce the spread of the virus from animal sources and address still existing unknowns.

Dr Katende further noted that while no case has yet been confirmed within the EAC region, it was of high priority and importance to ensure that all EAC Partner States maintain high levels of preparedness and surveillance.  

Meanwhile, the EAC Ministries of Health encouraged their staff to undertake the WHO online course for methods of detection, prevention, response and control that is available online on: https://openwho.org/courses/introduction-to-ncov

The EAC Secretariat urges citizens in the EAC region to undertake the following measures to avoid being infected with the new novel virus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, when they are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with contaminated hands, as you might transfer the virus.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical care early, especially if you have recently traveled to China or if you had contact with someone who returned from China with respiratory symptoms.
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with infectious pathogens as per good food safety practices.

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For more information, please contact:

Simon Peter Owaka
Senior Public Relations Officer
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 768 552087
Email: sowaka [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified

East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org