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Coronavirus: ECOWAS strengthens regional preparedness

Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of West African States have agreed to support member states for a regional preparedness and response to the ongoing Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Nigeria’s Health Minister for State, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, made this known at a news conference on Monday in Abuja, while briefing newsmen on the outcome of an emergency meeting held in Bamako, Republic of Mali.

Mamora said that members resolved to provide technical guidance and tools specifically to member states.

He added that member states had also stepped up proactive measures to ensure the best chance of containing a possible outbreak.

He said, “Following expert presentation on the global situation, the processes currently in place in the region and laboratory preparedness, the ministers resolved to strengthen coordination, communication, and collaboration among member states.

“This is in preparation for the Covid-19 epidemic, including cross-border collaboration.

“We will enhance surveillance and management measures for Covid-19, particularly at entry points; air, land, and sea.

“We will also step up communication to ensure that the public receives accurate, appropriate and timely information regarding the epidemic.

“We will develop a strategic regional preparedness plan based on member states’ priorities for governments, partners and the private sector to support.”

He said that the member states would be working closely with relevant authorities of national governments and the Chinese Government to monitor and assess the health situation of ECOWAS citizens resident in China.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, West African Health Organization, Prof. Stanley Okolo, said that the number of laboratories in Africa that could test samples for Covid-19 had continued to increase by the day.

Okolo said it was a critical step in preparedness, given the importance of early detection and monitoring during viral outbreaks.

He added that the first virus case in Africa had been confirmed, and explained that the global public health consensus was that many sub-Saharan African countries were vulnerable to a viral outbreak like coronavirus due to inadequate health infrastructure and personnel.

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