EDITORIAL: A united East Africa can defeat COVID-19

The Coronavirus has proven to be unforgiving for those who disrespect it, Italy and the US learnt that the hard way and they are now paying the price.

The virus does not respect wealth or status so the only way to counter it is preparedness and taking simple precautions such as keeping hands clean and social distancing.


Burundi, the only East African country which had so far reported zero infections has now confirmed two cases. In the last few weeks it has been in total denial even though there were reasonable grounds to advise it to take the matters seriously.


Up to a just a few days ago, they were still organizing large gatherings; football matches, political rallies and religious functions. Now it has finally announced preventive measures other countries adopted weeks ago to counter the outbreak.


But just before Burundi’s confirmation of the COVID-19 cases, it had done something that raised alarm bells that something was amiss; it had refused cargo trucks entry at the border with Rwanda, its lifeline to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.

This is not a time to be a recluse as we cannot fight this battle alone. Countries in the region should join hands, resources and expertise to fight the pest. Sulking and overburdening God to take care of the virus is not the solution.

This war needs a pragmatic approach and swallowing humble pie. As we have seen China’s economic and ideological waltz with the US, it is no time to play politics. It is time to look COVID-19 in the eye and tell it it will not get the better of a united East Africa.


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