It is only unity of purpose by all countries on the planet that will result in humankind defeating the coronavirus pandemic.
With most countries in Europe and Asia undergoing lockdown, we believe it is time countries in SADC and across Africa also start implementing tough and tighter measures to contain this pandemic.
With new cases being discovered and the number of confirmed cases in the SADC region continuing to rise by the day, we believe it is only when governments across the region start implementing tough measures that citizens will be safe.
Already, we have seen the governments of Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe taking a lead in curbing gatherings of people and shutting down schools, institutions of learning and sports and recreational areas. We urge those countries across the region and elsewhere across the continent to follow suit.
That is why we commend the Confederation of African Union for postponing sporting events across the country until the situation has stabilised.
As we have said before, Africa is not safe from this pandemic, especially with shaky healthy delivery systems in most countries and we believe tighter measures to ensure the virus does not spread across the continent should be the priority for now. Prevention is better than cure.
This is why we commend the SADC Council of Ministers for taking an unprecedented move of holding its meeting via video conference this week. SADC last week took the decision to suspend all face-to-face events and activities across the region in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and we believe this is a step in the right direction and must be abided with by all member states if the region is to curb the spread of the virus across the borders.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already declared the outbreak of Covid-19 a pandemic and nothing must surely be left to chance. A pandemic is a disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents, or worldwide.
Of course, economically, the SADC region, and Africa in general will be the biggest losers given that most economies rely on tourism and the export of commodities to countries outside the continent, which countries have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the health of citizens is far much important than economic considerations and we urge SADC member states to keep employing stricter monitoring measures and controls at their ports of entry, especially on people travelling from those countries across the world that are most affected which have had to implement stringent border controls, tighter screening of people and stricter preventative measures. For example, Italy, the most affected country in Europe, is still on a total shutdown, with workers and school children staying at home due to the virus. The shutdown has now spread to other countries in Europe and the United States of America, with business, sports, entertainment and recreational activities having been put on hold.
We also commend CAF for finally biting the bullet to suspend all football activities across the country, with the African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals which had been scheduled for Cameroon and African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers being the biggest victims. This is how it should be when the health of nations is under threat. Already, the European football governing body has suspended the Euro 2020 finals until sometime next year, while the soccer governing body in South America has also suspended the Copa America football tournament. It is only when the health of citizens is guaranteed that people can engage in sporting activities.
With no vaccine yet for the coronavirus, no one knows when this pandemic will end and there must therefore be no room to relax. We therefore urge SADC nations in particular, and all African nations in general, to continue fighting the pandemic. As we have pointed out before, most countries on the continent do not have adequate health facilities and the last thing Africa wants at this time is another pandemic. The continent has had the misfortune of carrying the brunt of HIV/Aids, ebola, malaria, and tuberculosis and an outbreak of corona virus will be too much for Africa.
But having said that, we do not believe that Africa is safe from this pandemic. Every effort must therefore continue to be taken to guard against this scourge.