NAIROBI, May 12 (Xinhua) -- East African leaders on Tuesday agreed on joint regional interventions as part of measures to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Paul Kagame of Rwanda also resolved to prioritize the implementation of measures that will ensure uninterrupted cross-border movement of goods even as the region continues to battle COVID-19.
"A unified stand is what we need to combat this pandemic in the region," Kenyatta told his regional peers during a meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State and Government.
Kenyatta said in a statement issued after the virtual meeting that contact tracing had helped Kenya to isolate and treat those infected by the virus.
"We continue to actively enforce contact tracing which has proved to be very effective in identifying those who have come into contact with infected persons," Kenyatta said.
The leaders acknowledged the challenge posed by cross-border trade in the fight against COVID-19, especially the emergence of truck drivers as a high-risk carrier population.
The regional leaders tasked their respective state agencies responsible for health, transport and EAC affairs to roll out border screening and testing measures especially for truck drivers that do not compromise cross-border movement of goods.
Kenyatta expressed satisfaction with measures taken so far by regional governments in managing COVID-19 and thanked relevant bodies for ensuring the region is able to minimize the cross-border spread of the virus while ensuring the uninterrupted movement of goods.
During the meeting, the presidents acknowledged the slowdown caused by the global pandemic on the region's key economic sectors and urged member states to prioritize local production of essential supplies needed to combat COVID-19.
Kenyatta encouraged EAC countries to invest more in agricultural production, agro-processing and value addition so as to empower the sector to act as an import substitute in this period when global trade is suppressed by the current public health crisis.
The leaders singled out Small and Medium Enterprises as the sector with the highest potential to cushion the region against adverse economic effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recommended the establishment of special purpose financing schemes to support the sector. Enditem