The 18th Extraordinary Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State on COVID19 which was scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.
The meeting was due to take place via video link due to the travel restrictions and prohibitions in gatherings in line with curbing coronavirus.
Liberat Mfumukeko, the EAC Secretary General wrote in a tweet: “The 18th Extraordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State on #COVID19 has been postponed due to the request by the Republic of South Sudan. A new date will be communicated in due course”.
Rwanda which currently has the mandate to schedule EAC meetings had written to Liberat Mfumukeko, the Community’s Secretary General, through its Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta, informing him that the meeting would be held at 11:00am (Kigali time).
“I would like to inform you that after consultation with Partner States, the Extraordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State on COVID-19 is scheduled to take place on 15th April, 2020 at 11:00 (Kigali time) by video conference,” writes Biruta.
It is not clear whether South Sudan had been consulted or not.
The planned Summit follows another meeting of Ministers Responsible for Health and EAC Affairs held on March 25 this year chaired by Rwanda’s Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije.
It was held to share existing knowledge and information on the COVID-19 outbreak, deliberate on the COVID-19 Pandemic, map up containment strategies to stem out any further spread of the disease in the region and develop a clear plan to mitigate against impacts caused by COVID -19 pandemic in the region.
The Heads of State were expected to among other things endorse the resolutions by the Ministers responsible for Health and Ministers responsible for East African Community Affairs which include Partner States continuing to implement mandatory quarantine for 14 days for all travelers to the region and avoid imported cases by implementing strict screening procedures at all border points and facilitating the free movements of goods and services in the region.
By Wednesday morning, Kenya had confirmed 216 cases, Rwanda 134, Uganda 55, Tanzania 53, Burundi 5 and South Sudan 4. Globally, there are 2,004,991 confirmed coronavirus cases, 126,839 deaths and 485,827 recovered cases.
No EAC Heads of State Summit has been held under the chairmanship of Rwanda ever since the country assumed chairmanship of the East African Community.