Tanzania Covid-19 coronavirusCovid-19 in Tanzania

The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths since April 2020, when it informed the public of 509 positive cases, 21 deaths, and 183 recoveries. The figures are officially unchanged to date.

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.

However, the newly appointed President Samia Suluhu Hassan has reversed Magufuli’s denialism of the pandemic and announced that she will form a team of specialists to monitor and provide professional advice on what has to be done to curb the pandemic in Tanzania.

Tanzania 2021 Covid-19 Update

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 have died in February 2021.

In addition, the Finance Minister at that time, Philip Mpango, was recently 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 has 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.

Two days later, Samia Suluhu was appointed President of 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.

However, President Suluhu has not yet explicitly commented on the above and no official directives have been communicated.

Tanzania Stance on Covid-19 Vaccines

On 2nd February 2021, Tanzania’s health minister announced that the country has no plans in place to accept Covid-19 vaccines.

Accordingly, Tanzania has been excluded from the countries set to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) rollout in Africa that has started in Ghana on 24th February 2021.

Dubbed COVAX-Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access-it is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines led by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and others.

Tanzania’s stance on the Covid-19 vaccines follows Magufuli’s skepticism about the vaccines sourced abroad.

Accordingly, the Tanzania Health Ministry was instructed to only adopt vaccinations after they had been certified by Tanzania’s own experts.

Tanzania’s national Covid-19 committee released its report on May 2021,  urged Tanzania to join the COVAX vaccination program.

However, President Suluhu has not yet explicitly commented on the above and no official directives have been communicated.

Traveling to Tanzania Under Covid-19

The Government of Tanzania has re-opened its airspace and restored its air transportation to permit travelers to the country.

However, the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory level for Tanzania is Level 4 – Do Not Travel as the practice of Covid-19 mitigation and prevention measures remains limited in the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states travelers should avoid all travel to Tanzania.

Currently, all passengers will be required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate upon arrival, taken within 72 hours of arrival in Tanzania.

All passengers traveling to Tanzania must complete an online Traveller’s Health Surveillance Form. This form must be submitted no more than 24 hours before arrival.

Tanzania is also implementing temperature screening for passengers on arrival. All passengers must take a rapid test at a cost of USD 25. Those testing positive or showing symptoms may have to undergo a 14-day self-isolation.

The Ministry of Health has issued a list of accredited hotels for Covid-19 quarantine in Tanzania.

On May 4th, 2021, Tanzania banned all flights to and from India–with limited exceptions–amid the Covid-19 surge in the Southeast Asian nation.

Economic Impact of Covid-19 in Tanzania

The World Bank (WB) expects the economic growth of Tanzania to slow to 2.5% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the labor market, production capacity, and productivity.

Tourism has 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 on exports caused by 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.

Last Updated: 29th May 2021

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