Tanzania Publishes First Covid-19 Data in Over a Year

(file photo).

Dar es Salaam — For the first time in more than a year, Tanzania has released figures on coronavirus, confirming 100 cases since a third wave of infections began. President Samia Hassan says Tanzania has budgeted $470 million to buy COVID-19 vaccine. The actions mark a sharp turn from Hassan's predecessor, the late John Magufuli.

A week ago, Tanzania's health ministry warned citizens that a "third wave" of COVID-19 infection was spreading across Africa.

On Monday, President Samia Hassan announced Tanzania has recorded 100 such cases in recent days, and said 70 patients required oxygen.

She warned citizens to protect themselves from infection.

Hassan said when you look at the number of patients, it's not that high but we must protect ourselves so it doesn't rise. She said the first step her government has taken is to go in line with the world by allowing the vaccine. And it will be voluntarily, she said. Hassan emphasized that a citizen who want to be vaccinated will get the shot and those who don't want it will not be disturbed until they change their minds.

Hassan said $470 million has been budgeted to purchase COVID-19 vaccine and provide economic relief for businesses that were severely hit by the pandemic.

In a message on Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright welcomed Hassan's intent to buy vaccine and signaled that the U.S. is ready to help.

Now, are the country's health care services ready to deal with COVID-19? Shadrack Mwaibambe is the president of the Tanzania Medical Association.

He says we have taken lessons from the first and second waves of COVID-19. The country is standing firm and where there are weaknesses, we are continuing to address them he says. Mwaibambe says that's why the president has decided to handle the pandemic using scientific methods like accepting its presence and she's fighting it. The amount of money that is set is enough and she has not diverted it to other areas he says.

Rights activists say with the government now doing its part, citizens should also follow COVID-19 guidelines. Felista Mauya is the director of empowerment and accountability with the Legal and Human Rights Center.

"We continue to emphasize that citizens and the whole society should continue to observe precautions by washing hands, wearing masks, and observing social distancing," she says. "Mauya added that people should focus on the guidelines and statements that our leaders are issuing following all the health guidelines and we can fight the virus."

President Hassan has yet to announce when the vaccine will arrive, but said Tanzania has joined the COVAX facility that sends doses to lower-income countries.

She said specialists are determining which brand of vaccine will be sent to Tanzania and how it will be distributed.

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