The COMESA Secretariat COVID-19 Taskforce led by Assistant Secretary General for Programmes (ASGP) Amb. Dr Kipyego Cheluget on Tuesday 6 April met representatives from the Africa Union Centre for Disease Control (AU – CDC) to discuss the pandemic and how the Secretariat should plan and prepare to return to work physically.
The Secretariat closed physical operations and migrated to online operations in March 2020 due to the continued escalation of COVID-19 cases in Zambia and the region.
Leading the AU CDC team was the Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) Coordinator Dr Lul Riek who together with the Infectious Prevention Control (IPC) Focal Point Dr Ariyo Bakare briefed the COMESA team on the different measures and steps that need to be considered before the Secretariat could re-open.
Amb. Kipyego welcomed the delegation to COMESA Secretariat and briefed them on the measures that have been put in place since March 2020. He informed the delegation that the Secretariat has continued to operate smoothly through the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which is prepared every month followed by the weekly timesheets which reflects approved activities and their implementation.
The secretariat has continued to follow the COVID guidelines by providing masks, hand sanitizer and internet bundles for the small core staff that operate from the office. The visiting team was informed that all meetings are held virtually, and missions or travel have been put on hold until further notice.
We have been looking forward to this meeting because we believe you are best placed to guide us to make the right decision regarding re-opening the Secretariat for physical operations,” he added “The Secretariat has performed well using a solid IT system which enables us to communicate, hold meetings and implement regional integration programmes seamlessly,”.
The AU-CDC delegation was taken round the offices and surroundings and later held a sit-down meeting with the COMESA team where they discussed steps to consider before opening the Secretariat. They are expected to compile a comprehensive report on their visit which will be shared with the Secretariat through the Secretary General.