Tanzania is COVID-19 FREE

Earlier last month, 74 out of 85 designated Coronavirus facilities were shut down in Tanzania, a decision attributed due to a lack of patients. The last official Coronavirus report from Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was on April 29th, confirming 509 confirmed cases. So how can it be that then neighbouring countries- Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia- are experiencing a surge in cases, and are assessing the next steps to stemming the spread of the virus?

Are Tanzania’s numbers an anomaly in the COVID-19 pandemic? Or, is the lack of reporting concealing the true extent of the virus in this East African nation?

President Magafuli declared the country COVID-19 free claiming that releasing figures was causing unnecessary panic. According to BBC Africa, Magafuli said that the, ‘number of patients in two large hospitals in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, has dropped from 228 to 18, although he didn’t give a timeframe for these figures.’ Dr. John Nkengasong told the BBC that without full reporting, it is difficult to validate the claims of the President and the cabinet. Even more recently, the Tanzanian government has issued guidelines for people (both citizens and foreigners) to obtain coronavirus clearance certificates. Many activists and youths on social media have been vocal through avenues such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn advocating that resource allocation towards the virus will delay efforts to open up the economy and halt job creation for Tanzanian people.

An interesting factor to consider in the story regarding Tanzania and COVID-19 is the religious aspect. Magafuli explained to a Catholic congregation in Dodoma that, ‘Tanzanians love God and that is why even the corona has been defeated by God.’ He further went ahead in explaining that thanks to prayers, the country is free of the coronavirus.

One widespread suspicion, of course, is that cases have simply not been reported. Testing is very limited in Tanzania, and even in neighbouring countries due to a limited capital to expend resources on testing without tracing. However, it is simply difficult to mask the effects of global pandemic, during a time in which the future is uncertain. The question raised is then whether Tanzania’s lack of coronavirus will be able to stand another wave as borders are opening to trade and economic activity.

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