Tanzania: We've Maintained Covid-19 Data All Along, Says Minister

What Will It Take to Effect the Covid-19 Precautions With a Third Wave Looming?

Dar es Salaam — The government said yesterday that it never stopped keeping track of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country despite having stopped releasing data in May, last year.

Deputy Health minister Godwin Mollel told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that data on the pandemic has always been there.

"Statistics have always been there. If there were no statistics or updates on what was going on, then everybody would have been very worried," he said.

The government, he said, had its own way of communicating with the relevant bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), regarding various diseases.

The government has not published data on coronavirus infections since May last year.

The government of the late President John Magufuli took approach on the pandemic compared to much of the rest of the world.

Most of the techniques of combating Covid-19, including lockdowns, wearing of face masks and social distancing were not adhered to strictly, with emphasis being put on use of traditional remedies, including steam inhalation.

Much of this has since changed after President Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in on March 19, this year, taking over from Dr Magufuli, who died on March 17, this year.

Data release is one of the conditions for the country to access a $571 million (about Sh1.3 trillion) loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is meant to help the country tackle economic challenges due to the pandemic.

Finance and Planning minister Mwigulu Nchemba confirmed to The Citizen last week that the country had logged an application for the loan and promised to issue further details at a later date.

"We have submitted the application within the specified time but I will provide detailed information in the near future," he told The Citizen in Dodoma last week.

Tuesday, June 15 was the deadline for application of the funds.

IMF officials in Dar es Salaam and Washington have since been quoted by Reuters as confirming about the existence of communications with the government, noting however that the country would be required to provide information on the pandemic.

"When applying for pandemic-related emergency financing, evidence of the pandemic has to be available to substantiate the claim," IMF's resident representative Jens Reinke told Reuters.

When Deutsche Welle asked about traditional remedies, Dr Mollel said the government would continue with its research until it finds proof of their efficacy or otherwise in the fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) yesterday directed those attending to the facilities at Mloganzila and Upanga to put on face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus, as fears of the third wave grows.

Muhimbili's public relations head Aminiel Aligaesha said in a statement that the move was part of implementing the Health ministry's directives issued to public and private institutions to act against the disease.

"All staff and students are required to wear face masks and none will be allowed to provide medical assistance without wearing a face mask," he stated.

The national hospital has also limited the number of visitors to two in the morning and two in the evening while only one visitor would be allowed in the afternoon.

"We advise that due to the crowded environment in the hospital the number of people that accompany patients for clinics to be reduced to only one individual per patient," the MNH statement reads in part.

Saturday June 19, 2021 the director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi, issued a statement admitting growing fears of Covid-19 third wave in Tanzania and urging all stakeholders to take action.

Dr Subi directed that the private and public sectors must take steps to strengthen all preventive measures to curb the threat of the third wave of the virus, including wearing face masks, hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.

"Private sectors, social and religious leaders should now take action by influencing communities to take all necessary precautions, by educating, and implementing interventions to protect themselves from threat of the Covid-19 third wave," Dr Subi told The Citizen over the weekend.

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