Covid-19 in Tanzania
According to the latest Covid-19 statistics published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there have been 42,530 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 846 deaths in Tanzania.
According to the Ministry of Health of Tanzania, a total of 46,848,520 doses had been administered and 86% of Tanzanians aged 18 and above received a full dose of vaccination against Covid-19.
Evolution of Tanzania’s Strategy on Covid-19
The Tanzanian government stopped releasing aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths in April 2020, when it informed the public of 509 positive cases, 21 deaths, and 183 recoveries.
Since then, Tanzania’s late President John Magufuli declared the country Covid-free and did not implement any curfew or confinement measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
On 12th February 2021, Tanzania’s government spokesperson, Dr. Hassan Abbas gave clarifications on Tanzania’s Covid-19 status to BBC. He said that the country has controlled the spread of the pandemic by adopting some of the measures indicated by the WHO and by focusing on traditional herbal medicines.
However, he could not say whether Tanzania doesn’t or it will not have people suffering from Covid-19 because the interaction of people across the world increases the chances of disease transmission from one place to another.
Later in February 2021, the late President Magufli acknowledged that Tanzania has a coronavirus problem after a recent series of high-profile deaths were attributed to pneumonia and respiratory challenges.
These include the First Vice President of Zanzibar Seif Hamad and the former central bank Governor Prof Benno Ndulu who died in February 2021.
In addition, the Finance Minister at that time, Philip Mpango, was hospitalized in Dodoma and was rumored that he had died of Covid-19.
On 23rd February 2021, he gave a media briefing about his ordeal in the hospital without revealing what he was suffering from.
In the video available on social media he repeatedly coffeed and struggled to express himself with a trembling voice.
Since then, former President Magufuli has encouraged citizens to wear face masks, but only those made in Tanzania. Meanwhile, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has renewed his call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share data.
He also called on Tanzania to implement public health measures to break the chains of transmission and to prepare for vaccination.
On 17th March 2021, Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has announced on a TV message to the nation the death of President John Magufuli on the same day at Mzena Hospital in Dar es Salaam while he was receiving medical treatment.
According to the information disclosed by Suluhu, Magufuli died of heart failure following heart problems that have been affecting him for about 10 years.
However, speculation arose that he had died from Covid-19.
Tanzania Current Stance on Covid-19
Tanzania’s current President Samia Suluhu Hassan has reversed Magufuli’s denialism of the pandemic and formed a team of specialists to monitor and provide professional advice on what has to be done to curb the pandemic in Tanzania.
On 6th April 2021, she announced that she will form a committee of specialists to monitor and provide professional advice on what has to be done so that Tanzania is not alone in its efforts to deal with Covid-19.
President Suluhu also said that her administration may resume publishing infection data. At the end of April 2021, a statement from the Ministry of Health of Tanzania informed that the country has installed medical oxygen production plants in its biggest national hospitals to serve intensive care ward patients, including those ill with coronavirus.
The plants, which can produce medical oxygen to fill 200 cylinders a day, were installed in seven referral hospitals in a project backed by the World Bank. Tanzania’s national Covid-19 committee released its report on May 2021.
It urged Tanzania to disclose again all Covid-19 cases in the country to the World Health Organization and join the COVAX vaccination program.
The committee also called to strengthen Covid-19 prevention efforts, comply with international resolutions, strengthen diagnostic capacity, and finalize a Covid-19 treatment guide for health workers.
In June 2021, President Suluhu announced that Tanzania will spend USD 470 million on vaccines, protective gear, and other medical equipment, and support economic sectors hardly affected by the pandemic.
The same month, the government has then started sharing data again. In July 2021, the Ministry of Health of Tanzania issues its Guidelines for Covid-19 Vaccination.
According to the document, Covid-19 vaccination in Tanzania is voluntary for eligible individuals. A consent form shall be signed prior to vaccination. Priority groups of the population have been defined.
On 28th July, President Suluhu launched the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the country by getting the vaccine shot at the White House in Dar es Salaam.
According to the latest information by the Ministry of Health of Tanzania, as of 31st December 2022, a total of 46,848,520 doses had been administered, and 86% of Tanzanians aged 18 and above received a full dose of vaccination against Covid-19 to 86
Traveling to Tanzania Under Covid-19
As per the latest Travel Advisory N.11 issued by the Ministry of Health of Tanzania on 8th September 2022 with effect from 15th September 2022, all travelers entering Tanzania including Tanzanians, returning residents, truck drivers/crew, and those in transit through land borders who are fully vaccinated will be exempted from both RT PCR and Rapid Antigen Test requirements.
Economic Impact of Covid-19 in Tanzania
Due to the pandemic, initially, tourism halted, and exports of manufacturing and agricultural goods slumped. The Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Monthly Economic Review of January 2021 indicates that in the year ending December 2020, Tanzania’s travel receipts declined by 59.2%.
However, in its Economic Bulletin For The Quarter Ending March 2021, BOT explains that the performance of the external sector of the economy continued to improve, amidst challenges to exports caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The overall balance of payments was a surplus of USD 328.4 million compared to a deficit of USD 136.5 million in the corresponding quarter in 2020, mainly on account of improvement in the financial account.
On 7th September 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved USD 567.25 million in emergency financial assistance to support Tanzania’s efforts in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by addressing the urgent health, humanitarian, and economic costs.
And in October 2021, President Samia launched the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan and Response to the Covid-19 pandemic worth TZS 3.62 trillion.
According to the East African Business Council (EABC), the economic effect of the pandemic has been a subdued GDP growth of 1% in Tanzania.
Meanwhile, the GDP decline in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda was -1.3%, -0.1%, -0.2%, -6.6% and -2.1%, respectively, with the EAC trading block experiencing an average 1.6% decline in Aggregate GDP in 2020.
Last Updated: 26th January 2023