Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) yesterday urged Tanzanians to step up aggressive control measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
The precautionary message was issued by TEC's secretary-general, Dr Charles Kitima, at a press conference in Dar es Salaam.
"We must accept there is a problem and take all precautionary measures as we did last year," he said, highlighting that South Korea has shown that it was possible to stop the spread, no matter how bad the outbreak was.
Dr Kitima said the main challenge that the country was grappling with was little emphasis on strict preventive measures that are similar to those that were announced when the disease hit the world last year.
As such, he said most Tanzanians later believed that there was no Covid-19 in the country.
That being the case, he said, they [Tanzanians] find no reason of going through the trouble of taking precautions like wearing face masks, washing their hands and maintaining social distancing.
"We should learn to will live with Covid-19 through taking sustainable precautionary measures," suggested Dr Kitima.
He added that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic requires a far more collaborative relationship between scientists, policymakers and religious leaders.
"Our scientists need to do research on issues related to Covid-19," said Dr Kitima, the former Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (Saut) Vice Chancellor.
"They need to collaborate and do research. Their inputs are vital in containing the spread of the virus.
"Prayers alone are not enough. We need to also consider scientific findings."
Covid-19 global vaccination
Meanwhile, a number of African countries are set to receive Covid-19 vaccines in the Covax initiative of the World Health Organisation (Who).
Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others. The Covax facility, run by the WHO along with health NGOs, is aiming at supplying vaccines to dozens of countries in the first 100 days of 2021, and two billion doses by the end of the year.
The first round of Covax doses started in February and will last through May, 2021.
Among the countries that have made it to the list of African countries to receive the vaccines include: Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While Africa's most populous country Nigeria received almost four million jabs, DR Congo got 1.7 million doses and Angola welcomed more than 600,000 doses and The Gambia was expected to take roughly 30,000.
Last week, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire were the first African countries to receive vaccines from Covax, which is aiming at supplying two billion doses by the end of the year.
Richer countries have surged ahead with vaccinations but many poorer countries are awaiting deliveries, prompting the WHO to warn that the crisis cannot end unless everyone can inoculate their populations.
On Tuesday March 2, WHO released a list of 142 countries that are expected to receive a first round allocation of nearly 237 million doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine - manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ) and licensed and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII/AZ).
"Participants not listed have either exercised their rights to opt-out of this vaccine, wish to transfer allocated doses to AMC participants, are AMC-eligible but have not joined the AMC, have voluntarily delayed receipt of doses and communicated this intent ahead of allocation, or have not met financial requirements," the statement reads in part.
So far, Kenya and Rwanda have received their vaccines. It was reported that 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi just before midnight on Tuesday.
Rwanda has received 240,000 doses of the same vaccine, with 102,960 Pfizer doses expected to arrive yesterday Wednesday March 3, 2021.
South Africa is using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is administered as a single dose. The country has received 80,000 doses of this vaccine, which has been shown to be effective against the variant first identified in South Africa.
However, Early in February, the country received one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
Additional reporting by AFP