In a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease in West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has directed the establishment of Committees on Coronavirus Management in all its institutions.
It also placed stringent restriction on meetings and missions as well as cancelled all prior approvals for meetings or mission, directing all institutions, committees or missions to seek fresh approvals for events that were not already ongoing.
A statement issued by ECOWAS President Jean-Claude Brou, noted that the virus had infected more than 168,000 people in over 140 countries including some in West Africa, and has killed more than 6,000.
Brou pointed out that already, 38 cases had been reported with zero death across Senegal (26), Burkina Faso (3), Cote d’Ivoire (3), Nigeria (2), Ghana (2), Guinea (1) and Togo (1), stressing the need for greater preventive measures.
While assuring that the sub-regional body stood in solidarity with all the affected countries, the ECOWAS President said that stringent measures must now be taken to curb further spread and avert further negative health, social and economic impact.
“ECOWAS remains committed to its mandate and the safety of their staff and other stakeholders. In this regard, ECOWAS would therefore take all necessary preventive and containment measures to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“A Committee on Corona Virus Management is hereby established at the ECOWAS Commission and all other ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies are requested to establish a similar Committee;
“In pursuance of appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, and to ensure that staff are available for possible deployment to support Member States, the ECOWAS Commission on the advice of West African Health Organization (WAHO) has decided in the abundance of caution that effective immediately:
“Only critically necessary missions will be approved; All Missions that have not started will be resubmitted to the Head of Institution for approval; WAHO Covid 19 Guidance for ECOWAS Missions will apply after approval.
“All staff who have been on mission to any high burden country or country with local transmission within 2 weeks of returning to their duty station should go into self-isolation for fourteen (14) calendar days, counting day 1 as the day the staff left the hotspot country. Transit at the airport does not apply,” he said.
ECOWAS also suspended until further notice, all meetings involving participants traveling on international flights and discouraged all local meetings involving more than 50 participants.
For the approved meetings, its said that the rule of social distancing must be applied while encouraging the use of technology for meetings with international participants.
The Commission president urged any staff that develops any symptoms of fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing to not only self-isolate but should also call dedicated telephone number or Covid 19 Toll free number in the Member State where they work.
Brou called on staffers to take care of their health and protect other people.
“All staff members and other stakeholders are advised to comply with the health advisory on the Covid-19 virus issued by WAHO and the national or regional centre for disease control.
“I urge all staff not to panic but ensure that they remain calm and healthy. All staff are advised to go about their normal duties calmly whilst practicing personal hygiene and social distancing in a professional manner,” he said. (NAN)