TANZANIA has intensified measures to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus, including enhancing capacity of the national health laboratory to diagnose the viral disease.
The country has also strengthened its health systems to enable health experts handle the disease in case of any outbreak.
Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu told journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the national health lab can now conduct coronavirus tests and provide results within four to six hours.
"This is an important step because suspected patients can undergo testing and confirm whether a person has contracted the disease or not," Ms Mwalimu said.
She stressed that so far there is neither suspected nor confirmed case of coronavirus in the country, adding that the government was taking all possible measures to prevent the disease from crossing the country's borders as well as strengthening preparedness to handle any outbreak.
Ms Mwalimu further said that the government has trained health personnel in various regions which are vulnerable tocoronavirus and other natural disasters on how to attend a patient infected with the disease, taking samples and observe health rules. Health personnel who benefited from the training are from Dar es Salaam, Coast Region, Arusha, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma and Mwanza.
"We have already formed regional response teams which will be responsible for making follow up in case of any outbreak, taking samples and provide treatment," she said. She said although there is no case of coronavirus in the country the ministry has prepared medicines, protective gears and hand sanitisers which have been distributed to zonal medical stores to be used in case of any outbreak.
"We have also identified special areas in regions which are in danger of coronavirus where suspected and confirmed patients will be quarantined," she said.
She added: "The ministry of health has already directed regional and district medical officers across the country to allocate special centres for suspected and confirmed patients and ensure that they have all important equipment to handle the outbreak."
The minister also observed that the government was also conducting screening to all passengers entering the country through borders, airports, and ports. "Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus as a global health emergency, a total of 11,048 passengers have been screened at major entry points since January 30 to February 27 this year... these passengers are from the countries which have been affected by the disease, including China," Minister Mwalimu said.
Ms Mwalimu said that they managed to screen the passengers because they have equipment like thermometers and walk-through thermo scanners. She said the government has also employed 100 health personnel to increase the workforce at border points to strengthen surveillance and monitoring of passengers entering the country.
According to Ms Mwalimu, the number of coronavirus patients has continued to increase globally, where by February 27 this year, a total of 83,652 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease and 2,858 deaths were reported.
"Based on these statistics, 94 per cent of all patients confirmed to have contracted the disease are from China.
According to WHO reports, a total of 51 countries reported coronavirus cases, of which three are from Africa, which are Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt," she said.