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In Tanzania, full-throttle COVID-19 denial leaves citizens without access to public health information

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  • In Tanzania, full-throttle COVID-19 denial leaves citizens without access to public health information


    In Tanzania, full-throttle COVID-19 denial leaves citizens without access to public health information
    Tanzania has gone silent on COVID-19 since declaring itself 'coronavirus-free'
    Written by
    GV Sub-Saharan Africa
    Posted 26 January 2021 16:08 GMT

    The novel coronavirus was first reported in Tanzania in mid-March 2020, but, after recording up to 509 cases and 21 deaths in late April, the nation announced its status as “coronavirus-free” in June.

    That same month, Kassim Majaliwa, the country’s prime minister, told parliament there are only 66 active coronavirus cases in the country, but did not provide further details.

    Since then, government has been silent on the coronavirus with a strong politic of denial and no data released to the public on infections or deaths.

    Today, most activities continue business-as-usual, including Tanzania's tourism industry, attracting thousands of visitors to its airports with few public health protocols in place.

    The airport in Zanzibar received the lowest 2-star rating on COVID-19 health and safety measures by Skytrax COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating, the world’s only assessment and certification of airport health and safety measures during the pandemic. According to their report, “new cases of the South African virus variant were confirmed in two travelers flying into Denmark on January 19, from Tanzania.”

    The highly anticipated annual African music festival, Sauti za Busara, will take place in mid-February in Zanzibar, with support from the European Union in Tanzania and several European embassies, despite the risk of highly contagious new coronavirus variants circulating in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.

    On January 24, the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha issued a letter warning congregants of the existence of COVID-19 in Tanzania, and urged members to follow all necessary public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus in churches.

    While Tanzania’s recorded cases are moderate compared to other countries, the government’s silence about COVID-19 data raised grave concerns among public health experts and human rights activists, who are forbidden from speaking or talking about COVID-19 in digital spaces.

    The country updated its 2018 Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations in July, prohibiting any “content with information with regard to the outbreak of a deadly or contagious disease in the country or elsewhere without the approval of the respective authorities.”

    Despite initial restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, schools, colleges, offices and other social activities are back to normal, even as the virus continues to spread in the region....

  • #2

    Tanzania says no plans in place to accept COVID-19 vaccines
    The Associated Press
    Published Tuesday, February 2, 2021 3:03AM EST

    DODOMA, TANZANIA -- Tanzania's health ministry says it has no plans in place to accept COVID-19 vaccines, just days after the president of the country of 60 million people expressed doubt about the vaccines without offering evidence.

    Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima told a press conference in the capital, Dodoma, on Monday that "the ministry has no plans to receive vaccines for COVID-19." Any vaccines must receive ministry approval. It is not clear when any vaccines might arrive, though Tanzania is eligible for the COVAX global effort aimed at delivering doses to low- and middle-income countries.

    The health minister insisted Tanzania is safe. During a presentation in which she and others didn't wear face masks, she encouraged the public to improve hygiene practices including the use of sanitizers but also steam inhalation -- which has been dismissed by health experts elsewhere as a way to kill the coronavirus...


    • #3
      bump this


      • #4

        Tanzania's virus surge dents claims of prayer 'cure'
        Published Monday, February 8, 2021 11:29AM EST

        DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA -- Tanzania has spent more than six months trying to convince the world it has been cured of the coronavirus through prayer, while refusing to take measures to curb its spread.

        However, dissent is mounting, along with deaths attributed to "pneumonia", with even a politician in semi-autonomous Zanzibar admitting he has the virus.

        "COVID-19 is killing people and we see a lot of cases but we cannot talk about the disease," said a doctor in a public hospital in Tanzania's biggest city Dar es Salaam, who like many asked not to be named for fear of reprisals....


        • #5

          ...“The government should break the silence,” ruling party lawmaker Zacharia Issay said in parliament on Thursday. “I am tired of going to burials.”

          The government’s unconventional stance toward the pandemic led the World Health Organization to caution that it is in breach of its obligations to combat the spread of the disease and supply data about its prevalence. A failure to reverse course could leave the nation of 60 million people contending with an unmitigated public health disaster and facing international isolation and pariah status.

          Muhimbili Hospital, the Aga Khan Hospital, TMJ Hospital, Hindu Mandal Hospital, Regency Medical Center, Kairuki Hospital and Rabininsia Memorial Hospital in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam all had to turn patients away over recent weeks because they’d been inundated, according to doctors and officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared state reprisals. Beds, oxygen and respirators were all in short supply, and intensive-care units were full, they said.

          Hospitalizations of patients suffering from respiratory problems, fatigue and other conditions typically associated with Covid-19 began rising in January after the year-end holidays, the doctors said.

          A spokesperson at the Aga Khan Hospital couldn’t immediately comment when called on Wednesday, while Regency Medical Center didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions they requested. Calls to the other hospitals weren’t answered.

          Health Permanent Secretary Mabula Mchembe last week denied that hospitals are being overrun by coronavirus patients. Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima said the government has no plans to import vaccines...