EAC countries to recognize Covid-19 results from member countries

EAC Ministers

Countries forming the East African Community will henceforth accept the Covid-19 test results from accredited laboratories in the respective member states.

A joint multi-sectoral meeting of Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs, Health and Transport on Monday afternoon resolved that partner states will recognize results from an identified list of clinics and labs across the region where other EAC nationals can get coronavirus tests.

During the meeting, EAC member countries resolved fast track use of a system that integrates Covid-19 test results and vaccination data at EAC members, popular as EACPass.

The EACPass works by consolidating the results of all travelers and passengers undertaking mandatory Covid-19 testing in the designated accredited laboratories in each EAC Partner State.

All authorized and accredited testing facilities in each country upload Covid-19 data to their respective Ministry of Health (MOH) repository.

According to a communiqué from the Secretariat, only PCR Negative Covid-19 results for travelers are pushed automatically to the EACPass which is accessible digitally and is verifiable at all ports of entry and exit.

In addition, states are supposed to notify each other and the EAC Secretariat in case of any deviations from the agreed Covid-19 protocols to mitigate the impact on movement of goods, persons, workers and services.

Presently, EAC Partner States have finalized the technical integration of accredited laboratories within the Community to EACPass and digital certificates can be shared across the region to facilitate easy movement of EAC citizens within the region.

The 21st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health held on 10th December, 2021 approved the EACPass as a regional platform to facilitate movement of all trave​llers in the region and beyond and also directed EAC Partner States to facilitate the implementation and use of EACPass as a platform for quick verification of Covid-19 test certificates and vaccination status for travelers.

The directive comes after a standoff at the border of Kenya and Uganda following a move by Authorities in Kampala to outlaw tests done outside its borders.

For some time now, truck drivers operating in the region have been protesting the rejection of their Covid-19 certificates by Ugandan authorities.

The hundreds of the drivers at Malaba and Busia border points went ahead and even refused to pay the KSh3,500 demanded for tests in Uganda noting that a similar exercise in case is done free of charge.

Last week, EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki, noted that even though the region was keen to rebound from the negative effects of Covid-19 pandemic, constant trade impasses at EAC border points were jeopardizing the gains made in the integrated community.

He argued that partner states ought to prioritise the adoption of a regional coordinated approach in handling various issues including the pandemic.

“Harmonization of Covid-19 charges and coordinated waiting time for Covid results is critical to facilitate business continuity and ease the cost of doing business,” said Dr. Mathuki.

Mathuki supported the planned use of EACPass saying its adoption will ease movement and crossing time at border points.

A follow up meeting to review the situation will be held on Friday, 14th January 2022.

  

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