Dar es Salaam — Tanzania's borders will remain open in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, but people arriving from outside the country are from today required to go into self-isolation for 14 days at their own cost.
This is among a number of additional measures announced by President John Magufuli yesterday to curb the spread of the viral disease that has so far infected over 300,000 people and killed at least 12,000 across the world.
Addressing the nation from State House in Dodoma, Dr Magufuli said the number of confirmed cases of the viral disease in Tanzania stood at 12 as of yesterday.
No death had been recorded in the country, and four of the patients were said to be recovering.
President Magufuli said it is mandatory for travellers arriving in the country from today to go into self-isolation for 14 days at their own cost.
"This also incudes Tanzanians returning home from countries ravaged by Covid-19," he said.
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He urged Tanzanians to shelve non-essential travel outside the country, especially to places that have been hit hard by the disease, adding that the screening of people arriving in the country would be stepped up at all entry points.
"I'm directing the relevant authorities to ensure that nobody is allowed to enter the country without being screened for symptoms of the disease."
Other measures, according to the President, include suspension of travel permits to public servants planning to travel to countries with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, and improving the capacity of the national laboratory by providing it with modern screening equipment.
The government has been taking all possible measures to ensure that the coronavirus does not ravage the country, does not spread further, he said.
The President also directed the supply of screening equipment and protective gear to public workers who are stationed at the country's border posts.
He also directed that only the prime minister and the Health minister are responsible for releasing updates on the Covid-19 to the public.
Out of 12 reported cases, four are foreign nationals, while the other eight are Tanzanians.
"The laboratory investigation carried out today (yesterday) on twenty people found that all were Covid-19-negative. Even the first suspect waho was reported in Arusha has tested negative," he said.
Apart from new measures, the government has also shut down all schools, colleges and universities for 30 days, suspended the annual Uhuru Torch race, banned crowds, and encouraged hygienic practices in public transport services.
Speaking earlier yesterday during the Sunday mass at the St Paul's Catholic Church in Dodoma, Dr Magufuli called upon Tanzanians to continue working hard, and mustn't be discouraged by the pandemic.
"The government will not yield to Covid-19," he insisted
President Magufuli urged Tanzanians to work hard at building the national economy, while taking all preventive measures against the virus as counseled by medical experts. "Let us continue working to build our nation; we will not retreat from the coronavirus - and we depend on God to develop our economy," he said.
"I believe this disease was brought by Satan, and the only way to win this battle is through God. We have threatened each other about Covid-19, as if there is no disease that kills people; Aids kills; cancers kill, and road accidents kill many people."
Dr Magufuli also warned against people who joke about Covid-19 through the social media.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 317,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in 160 countries and territories across the world, with at least 13,000 people dead.
Also, Covid-19 has already affected various sectors of the global economy, with the aviation industry been hit hardest due to ongoing travel bans. Indeed, a number of airlines are incurring massive losses that have so far amounted to $150 billion. The pandemic has also affected nearly all global stock markets, trade and investments, with a number of countries already mulling economic stimulus packages.
Covid-19 was first declared by WHO a global health emergency until March 11 this year, when it declared it a global pandemic.
WHO says there is no specific vaccine or treatment for Covid-19, but there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatment.