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Stakeholders in CAR Consult to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 with 5 Confirmed Cases

President Faustin Archange Touadera during the meeting with stakeholders of various institutions in the country, including Catholic Church leaders.

With just five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Central African Republic (CAR), stakeholders of various institutions in the country, including Catholic Church leaders, held a meeting to consult on ways to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that is claiming precious lives in other parts of the world, including African nations.

“We spoke, among other things, about places of worship and we also raised the question of schools. It is necessary to move in the direction of the temporary closure of schools and the possible closure of borders,” the Vice-President of the Central African Bishops' Conference (CECA), Bishop Richard Appora told local media after the meeting early in the week.

According to the Bishop of Bambari, each entity made proposals to the President, who in his discretion, will take decisions thereafter.

“The position of the Catholic Church is clear, it will go in the direction of temporarily suspending the cultural and spiritual activities of movements and fraternities, prayer groups in parishes and schools that are places of transmission of the coronavirus,” Bishop Richard said.

In response to the meeting with stakeholders of different institutions in the country, the government on Friday, March 27 announced a series of measures to reinforce the nation’s precautionary directives to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

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“Today, as announced by the Head of State, 14 new measures are taking immediate effect, including the closure of the airport for a renewable period of 15 days, with the exception of commercial flights, humanitarian flights, cargo flights and aircraft in difficulty, technical stopovers without disembarkation (...), as well as pre-school, school and university establishments, dance bars, refreshment bars, etc,” Local Media reported.  

In addition, there are restrictions on mourning and marriage ceremonies, not to mention restrictions on movement from Bangui to the provinces, etc.

Bishop Appora also called on the government and the churches to provide accompanying measures in the fight against the pandemic saying, “We can speak of closing this or that, but it is not because a confinement has been made in France or Italy that we are necessarily going to make a confinement in the Central African Republic.”

“As we know, people live from day to day, and not all families have freezers,” Bishop Appora said and added, “There is a lot of thought to be given to this, we must not copy and paste. Government should provide the means to support this fight.”

Speaking at the end of the Tuesday, March 24 meeting, CAR’s Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Augustin Yangana-Yahoté explained that as the chairman of the crisis committee, the country’s President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, wanted to have the point of view of men of God before taking measures in case some of them affected religious institutions.

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“In the near future, the Head of State will take measures on the basis of the opinions gathered during this meeting as well as those of the meetings of the technical committee and the crisis committee,” Minister Yangana-Yahoté stated.

According to local media, CAR’s Minister of the Interior, Augustin Yangana Yahoté, said that the various proposals made by the participants of the meeting were recorded by the government which will make a synthesis of them to the crisis committee that is being set up.

In the meeting which was attended by representatives of the Catholic Church, the Central African Evangelical Association, the Central African Islamic High Council, the country’s Minister of Public Health, Pierre Somsé, made recommendations based on the evolution of COVID-19 in the country.