Tanzania: As COVID-19 Fight Intensifies - Zanzibar Bans Flights

Veteran opposition politician Seif Shariff Hamad from Zanzibar and President John Magufuli greet each other with their feet amid fears of the spread of COVID-19 (file photo).

Zanzibar — The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has banned all tourist flights from entering the Isles as yet another precautionary measure over COVID-19.

The bold decision in preventing the spread of the deadly virus came despite the fact that tourism sector is the main contributor to the economy of the Isles.

Tourism is Zanzibar's largest economic sector and essential for the island's socio-economic stability.

It accounts for 27 per cent of the GDP, 80 per cent of foreign revenue and provides the highest private sector employment.

However, due to the global health crisis following the outbreak of the COVID-19, Zanzibar's Acting Health Minister, Mahmoud Thabit Kombo yesterday announced the ban of all tourist flights, except tourist charter flights, with condition that tourists onboard should be quarantined for 14 days on their own expense.

Yesterday's development in the fight against spread of the pandemic came barely two weeks after the Isles banned visitors from Italy from entering the Isles for fear of the coronavirus malady.

On Wednesday this week, Zanzibar reported the first case of coronavirus.

Mr Kombo made the statement after visiting Kidimni Village quarantine centre where only one patient so far, a Ghanaian from Germany, who tested positive on Tuesday, is being treated and monitored, and recovering steadily.

On Wednesday, the Isles Health Minister Hamad Rashid Mohamed said Zanzibar was joining the global war against coronavirus by suspending learning in all institutions after confirming the first case of coronavirus.

He said one of the three people, a Ghanaian, a German and a Tanzanian whose sample were taken to Dar es Salaam for testing had tested positive.

The Ghanaian age 24 entered in Zanzibar from Germany by Kenya Airways on March 11, 2020.

In another development, in ongoing efforts to prevent possible spread of COVID-19, the current global pandemic, the Mayor of Zanzibar City, Khatib Abdulrahman Khatib has announced the closure of the famous Darajani Street evening market indefinitely "The safety of our people is our top priority."

Mr Khatib said in a statement read over the national Radio- ZBC yesterday, saying the market mainly used by small traders to sell their goods in the evening will be temporarily closed.

Darajani evening market also attracts tourists and hotel operators because the prices are normally 'reasonable' compared to prices in supermarkets and municipal markets in urban and rural areas.

The mayor said "Business in the central market and other markets in the municipality continues as usual, but we must take health precautions, including avoiding crowded areas."

Pemba South Regional Commissioner, Hemed Suleiman Abdalla has also called on traders in his region to observe hygiene in support of the global war against the spread of coronavirus, as the Mufti office (responsible for Muslim affairs) directed religious leaders to minimize prolonged mass prayers.

Sheikh Khalid Ali Mfaume- Secretary, Mufti office emphasized that the ongoing restriction on gatherings only aims at containing the COVID-19 as directed by health experts in fighting the virus.

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