Tanzania: Prime Minister Acts Tough on Fake News 'Cooks'

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has warned the public against publishing, forwarding or creating fake news and misinformation about the novel coronavirus in the country.

He said that from now on, those reports will be provided by the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, and if necessary they will be provided by the Prime Minister or by top government officials to avoid confusion.

Mr Majaliwa issued the warning yesterday in Dodoma during a video conference with all Regional Commissioners (RCs), Regional Administrative Secretaries (RAS) and Regional Chief Medical Officers in the country.

Subsequently, the Premier has directed the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to make follow-ups on those who fabricate news through social media, and those found guilty of indulging in such acts to be dealt with under the relevant provisions of the law.

"I am warning everyone against spreading baseless rumours and falsehood through mobile phones and social media platforms, which can create un necessary panic and hardship to all around, they must all be monitored and measures taken against them," he cautioned.

He said despite the fact that the COVID-19 infection rate in the country is not alarming, officials have to raise awareness on necessary procedures to be taken against the spread of the virus.

Mr Majaliwa instructed the RCs to take preventive measure as provided by the Ministry for Health.

"If you get any case in your area, make use of the nearest new health centres that are yet to commence operations."

The Premier further urged them to strengthen the provision of public education and possible use of broadcast vehicles for the public to understand the impact of the virus and preventive measures they can take to ease coronavirus anxiety so that they can continue with their development activities.

He also urged them to use community radios to raise public awareness about COVID-19 and oversee service delivery in public areas like bus stations and ensure the buses are not crowded.

"Go to public areas, including bus stations to inform the public and ease coronavirus nervousness. Go to offices, industries and mining areas to raise awareness to staffs every morning, you can spend 15 minutes with them before they start their daily schedule, they need to know better ways to protect themselves," he remarked.

For those in refugee camps, he said their leaders should be instructed on how to create awareness about the coronavirus pandemic, "The government will play its part by continuing to strengthen border controls, the ability to test samples and provide the necessary equipment."

He also asked the RCs to work closely with District Commissioners in their regions to oversee the implementation of these directives.

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath and fever. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should call the toll-free numbers 0800110037 or 0800110124.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister instructed the RCs to make sure they pursue and take action against traders who hike prices of products that are used in the control of coronavirus infections.

The PM urged religious leaders to continue educating all their members to comply with precautionary measures provided by authorities as well as keep on praying for the nation.

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