The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has capped at $50 the cost of COVID-19 PCR test for nationals travelling within the region.
This was agreed at the 58th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held on Saturday, January 23, 2021, via video conferencing.
A communiqué issued after the meeting said, “The Authority approves the harmonised ECOWAS Protocol for cross-border movement of persons and goods during the pandemic and caps the cost of COVID-19 PCR test for travel within the region by ECOWAS nationals at a maximum of US$50.”
Currently, the different countries within the ECOWAS region charge different amounts for COVID-19 tests for travellers within the region.
Residents in some members countries have had the cause of complain about the high cost of the test when travelling to neighbouring countries especially at the ports of entry.
The ECOWAS meeting, chaired by Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo also agreed to set up a fund, called the Vaccine Revolving Fund to receive contributions from governments, development banks, the private sector and partners for the purpose of securing “anti-COVID vaccines in the region through short-term pooled procurement and medium-to-long-term regional manufacture.”
Besides this fund, ECOWAS agreed to establish a COVID-19 Donor Working Group who will campaign to raise additional funds.
“The Authority also instructs the ECOWAS Commission and WAHO, in conjunction with Member States, to lead the process of sourcing 240 million doses of preferably WHO-approved vaccines through direct and collaborative approaches to manufacturers, partners and friendly foreign governments that may be willing to sell extra doses that they may have pre-purchase. The Authority requests the ECOWAS Commission and WAHO to drive the process of supply of vaccines, in line with the COVAX Initiative and taking into account the initiatives of Member States at the continental and international level, to ensure the availability of as many vaccines as possible. Authority also directs that the vaccination campaign should start latest by the end June, 2021,” the communiqué stated.
As at Saturday, January 23, 2021, the cumulative number of confirmed positive cases in West Africa was 298,494.
The number of deaths was 3,800 with recoveries at 256,168.