On behalf of the entire membership of the ECOWAS Parliament, I wish to commiserate with the world, particular the people of West Africa, over the ongoing COVID 19 scourge.
I wish to recall that the disease was first discovered in Wuhan, China, last December and since then, it spread very fast to Europe, the United States, Africa and specifically West Africa. As at today (24th March, 2020), there are about 251 confirmed cases reported in ECOWAS Member States. With the exception of Mali, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, all other 12 Member States are impacted, with a total of 7 deaths across 3 States. These figures are
expected to be on the rise in the coming days.
I wish to use this medium to commend the pro-active efforts of our Governments in the subregion. They have indeed acted fast, under the circumstances, by putting in place several measures that would help limit the spread of the virus. In particular, I wish to commend the travel restriction imposed on countries hard hit by the disease. Furthermore, the immediate creation of isolation centers, shows the willingness to address the scourge head-on. There may, however, be the need to expand existing isolation facilities and get them fully equipped with additional beds, ventilators, and other essential medical supplies. Furthermore, our Governments need to make adequate provision to protect our first respondents. Here, I am
referring to our dedicated Doctors, Nurses and other auxiliary medical personnel, who put their lives on the line to respond to emergencies. The basic supplies needed should be provided, especially hand gloves, face masks and protective jackets.
To our citizens, I wish to suggest that we should first avoid any form of panic and face the situation boldly. We should also adhere strictly to medical advice, especially as it relates to the following:
• Personal Hygiene: The constant washing of hands should be observed, using soap and running water. The use of hand sanitizer is also highly encouraged;
• Social distancing should be observed at all times. We should avoid large gatherings of people; Travel restrictions should be adhered to. We should not travel if we have no reason to travel;
• Avoid fake news especially unscientific theories to the effect that COVID-19 does not affect Africans or that our tropical climatic conditions have significant impact against it. These theories do not have any scientific backing and should immediately be discarded;
• Avoid self- medication. Where we experience any of the symptoms, the hospital is the first point of call. As yet, there is no proof that herbs and other forms of traditional medicines can cure the disease. Also, there is yet no proof that an overdose of Chloroquine is a cure;
• Avoid complacency, especially comparing our ebola experience in 2014 to the current situation. While we are dealing with a virus, as in the case ebola, the characteristics of the present virus differs significantly from ebola.
I have already directed that all political activities of the ECOWAS Parliament be put on hold.
These include the activities of the Adhoc committee on Election of Members by Direct Universal Suffrage. We will continue to monitor the current situation as it unfolds to determine the appropriateness or otherwise of holding the 2020 1st Ordinary Session, usually scheduled in the month of May.
Finally, I wish to encourage us all to be steadfast and forward looking. Let me remind us that our personal health should primarily be our concern. As West Africans sharing a common destiny, we should remain optimistic that together we shall overcome this scourge and come out of it stronger.
His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis
Right Hounourable Speaker,