This Bulletin 8 of the SADC Response to COVID-19 covers a number of key aspects on the COVID-19 pandemic. The report highlights some key global updates on treatment trials that are currently underway. The Bulletin further provides guidance and updates on the release of patients from isolation as well as guidance on breastfeeding for mothers who are suspected or confirmed COVID-19, which will be useful for Member States.
The report continues to place emphasis on the importance of testing, given the Continental Initiative on the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) which Member States are urged to implement to be able to Test, Trace and Treat COVID-19 cases. Related to this, we present a case study on the interactions between COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, TB and other diseases based on data from the Western Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa whose results have been published widely to explain these disease interactions.
The region continues to take stock of the impacts posed by the pandemic on different aspects of the region’s economies and how Member States can re-build and implement post COVID-19 recovery strategies. Health systems have been impacted significantly, the shortage of test kits and other supplies continue to be a challenge across the majority of Member States. In a similar vein the economies of the SADC region have suffered significantly due to the contraction in economic activity and overstretched public finances, coupled with increased public debt.
The energy sector is one sector that has been hardest hit. With reduced economic activity, the demand for energy such as electricity, gas and oil has been at its lowest, as businesses and activities in industry have ground to a halt. As a result, companies generating energy, have suffered a serious slump. The region continues to observe challenges in the transport sector, especially cross border movement of goods and services, this has continued to delay delivery of goods and services to final destination. It is encouraging to note however that, these issues are being addressed through the implementation of the SADC Guidelines on Movement of Goods and Services across the region during COVID-19. The report provides some key recommendations which Member States can consider for implementation;
i) Member States are being called on to coordinate, communicate, collaborate, and cooperate to support the PACT Initiative to control COVID-19 in Africa.
ii) Member States are urged to adapt the recommended guidelines on criteria for releasing COVID-19 patients from isolation as well as the guide on breastfeeding for mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19as a reference, in order to address the emerging health issues as they arise.
iii) Member States are urged to note the disease interactions between HIV, TB, COVID-19 and other diseases and ensure that caution is taken to ensure strengthening of health systems to ensure that patients living with these pre-existing conditions are well managed at health facilities to reduce mortality incidence.
Economic and Financial Sectors
iv) Member States are urged to ensure that Monetary policies remain accommodative where inflation pressures are low, in order to maintain financial sector stability.
v) Member States are urged toimplement structural reforms to put their fiscal positions on a path consistent with debt sustainability
vi) As the economies start to recover, Member States are urged to shift policy focus from broad fiscal support to more affordable, targeted policies.
vii) Member States are urged to increase investment in, and adopt renewable energy technologies, in keeping with the SAPP’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy, as part of their economic stimulus and recovery plans.
viii) Member States are urged to use the opportunity to invest in improving their national grids.
Natural Resources and Conservation Sector
xi) Member States are urged to increase joint Transboundary Conservation activities to complement efforts in the region and increase effectiveness against illegal activities.