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Tanzania coronavirus: US embassy issues alert, risk of contraction 'high'

Tanzania coronavirus: US embassy issues alert, risk of contraction 'high'

Tanzania

June 2: US issues health alert for Dar es salaam

The United States embassy in Dar es Salaam has issued a health alert over the lack of transparency of government over the handling of COVID-19 crisis.

The Embassy’s statement comes a week after the ambassador was summoned by the foreign ministry over an earlier statement. The statement of June 2, 2020 said the risk of contracting the virus remained high.

It bemoaned how government has yet to release updated figures since April 29 and said a number of airlines had begin bookings for flights out of the country. Airspace was opened recently as well as universities and high schools. Sporting events are also allowed to take place.

Health Alert: U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam

The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers on COVID-19 cases or deaths since April 29. Consequently, we are unable to provide specific guidance for U.S. citizens in Tanzania.

The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19. For emergency American Citizen Services, including emergency passports, please visit our website for additional information.

Given the presumed ongoing community transmission in Dar es Salaam and other locations in Tanzania, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains high. The Embassy has recommended that U.S. government personnel and their families reduce movement outside of their home except for essential activities and limit the number of visitors entering their home.

Healthcare facilities in Tanzania can become quickly overwhelmed in a healthcare crisis. There have been instances during the COVID-19 outbreak when hospitals in Dar es Salaam reached full capacity due to the high volume COVID-19 cases. Limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care.

The Government of Tanzania lifted the suspension on international flights to Tanzania and several airlines have scheduled international flights beginning June 2020.

May 28: June 1 school reopening guidelines issued

The Ministry of Health has issued a set of rules to guide the safe reopening of academic institutions across the country – schools academies and universities. The resumption takes effect on Monday June 1.

School leadership, academies and educational institutions should encourage students, teachers and their staff to wear cloth face masks when they return, a May 28 statement read in part.

Authorities are to ensure soap and water handwashing stations as well as adequate supplies of other sanitation supplies as towels and toiletries.

Spacing is another requirement that they are tasked to implement. Students with signs of the virus must be tested whiles those that have contracted it must stay away till their situation improves. Universities that were used as quarantine centers are to be disinfected 72-hours to reopening.

Tanzania did not close land borders except for airspace at the heat of the virus spread. Government did not implement a lockdown or a curfew. Official stats of the virus have not been released since late April.

It is one of the first countries in the region to reopen schools having earlier reopened its airspace to local and international traffic. The government’s handling of the virus has been criticized by the WHO Africa head. Whiles ‘faulty’ test kit claims have been dismissed by Africa CDC.

Total confirmed cases = 509
Total recoveries = 183
Total deaths = 21
Active cases = 305

Figures valid as of close of day May 29, 2020

May 26: Govt summons US envoy over virus advisories

The Tanzanian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week summoned the acting US ambassador over recent advisories relating to COVID-19.

Ambassador Inmi Patterson was summoned to the Ministry where she was engaged by Permanent Secretary Colonel Wilbert Ibuge, a statement posted on the Ministry’s Twitter page disclosed.

The embassy in a May 13 advisory said the risk of virus contamination remained extremely high in Dar es Salaam and in other parts of the country.

Government said the information was untrue and could have triggered distress among Tanzanians and foreigners. Ibuge also stressed that ambassadors were free to demand factual and official information before putting same out in the public.

The statement had also pointed out that since late April no official figures had been released and also that hospitals in Dar were overwhelmed. No evidence was adduced for the claims. Days later president Magufuli declared that the country was winning the battle against the virus with God’s help.

May 22: Dar RC declares victory over virus

“Hotel owners, barbers, companies and businesses are all back to work. By Sunday, everyone should be happy … our God has won (the virus fight) for us. Turn on your music, that day I have given you freedom,” these are the words of Paul Makonda, regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam.

His pronouncement is the latest in the Tanzania government’s posture towards a virus that has led to the imposition of lockdowns and enforcement of physical distancing in most African countries.

During an address to a church congregation over the weekend, President Magufuli echoed the God factor in battling the virus which he said was being defeated by the country.

“There is not going to be any such thing as lockdown in Tanzania, God will help us. We need to work hard, once the other East Africans are done with their lockdown, they will come to us, and we shall still help them with food, we will not against discriminate them.”

Tanzania’s case count has been at 509 for weeks now. No new data have been released and government has dismissed a health alert by the US embassy about overwhelmed hospitals in the largest city, Dar es Salaam.

May 22: Dar RC declares victory over virus

“Hotel owners, barbers, companies and businesses are all back to work. By Sunday, everyone should be happy … our God has won (the virus fight) for us. Turn on your music, that day I have given you freedom,” these are the words of Paul Makonda, regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam.

His pronouncement is the latest in the Tanzania government’s posture towards a virus that has led to the imposition of lockdowns and enforcement of physical distancing in most African countries.

During an address to a church congregation over the weekend, President Magufuli echoed the God factor in battling the virus which he said was being defeated by the country.

“There is not going to be any such thing as lockdown in Tanzania, God will help us. We need to work hard, once the other East Africans are done with their lockdown, they will come to us, and we shall still help them with food, we will not against discriminate them.”

Tanzania’s case count has been at 509 for weeks now. No new data have been released and government has dismissed a health alert by the US embassy about overwhelmed hospitals in the largest city, Dar es Salaam.

May 20: ‘Faulty’ tests of truck drivers: Tanzania accuses Kenya of sabotage

The Tanzanian region of Arusha says Kenya is engaging in actions meant to affect its tourist potential by issuing faulty COVID-19 test results for cross-country truck drivers.

Regional commissioner Mrisho Gambo in a statement of May 20 said nineteen drivers who were declared positive by Kenya tested negative in Tanzania.

“In efforts to confirm reliability of COVID-19 test results, we took samples from 19 drivers from Tanzania who had tested and declared positive by Kenya authorities at Namanga border on Kenyan side.

“After these samples were submitted to our main national laboratory in Dar es Salaam, the results came back as negative for all these drivers from Tanzania. Arusha region is confident that this is a deliberate sabotage strategy designed by Kenya against our tourism industry in Arusha and Tanzania at large,” the statement read in part.

The commissioner noted that drivers declared “positive” were not allowed to cross the border into Tanzania or enter Kenya. He said Arusha remained committed to finding an amicable solution with Kenyan authorities.

The development comes a day after Kenya announced that over 180 foreigners had been returned to Tanzania after testing positive for the virus. Kenya has closed its side of the border due to virus spread.

Zambia also recently shut a common border with Tanzania. The town of Nakonde remains Zambia’s most infected area having recorded much more cases that the capital Lusaka.

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