Tanzania COVID U-turn ‘a great transfer’ – however is it adequate? | Coronavirus pandemic Information
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Esther Mngodo, like other Tanzanians, was relieved to hear that government officials this week are finally urging people in the country to take precautions against the coronavirus – and even wear face masks.
“It’s a good move,” said Mngodo, a 34-year-old Dar es Salaam resident. “However, much more needs to be done to increase public awareness, testing and treatment. Most of all, we need to have a clear strategy on how to navigate these unprecedented times. “
In a surprising change to the official stance on the coronavirus, President John Magufuli said Sunday the government had not banned the wearing of masks and encouraged those who wanted to.
However, he warned of alleged faulty face coverings being sold in the country and suggested that high coronavirus-related death rates worldwide could be related to ingestion of such products, claiming that those in rural Tanzania would be less likely to be victims of that Virus because they tended not to wear it.
“The government has not banned the wearing of masks. But we have to be careful what masks we wear. We will perish. Don’t think we are loved so much. Economic war is bad, ”Magufuli told a congregation at a service in Dar es Salaam.
“Those masks that we buy in stores are killing us,” he argued before advising Tanzanians to either make the masks themselves or to use the locally made ones.
Magufuli has long downplayed the severity of COVID-19, urging Tanzanians to pray, use steam inhalation and use local remedies to protect themselves from respiratory diseases. Tanzania stopped publishing infection numbers in April 2020, weeks before Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free through divine intervention in June.
For Mngodo, the recent U-turn could be the result of a seemingly fatal infection resurrection that has raged across the country in recent months.
“It seems that the scale of the problem has reached a point where the government cannot deny the severity of the problem,” said Mngodo, a media advisor.
Obituaries, often attributed to “current pneumonia” or “breathing problems” have flooded social media.
Among those who died are a number of high-profile individuals, including several university professors, a former central bank governor, the country’s chief secretary and Zanzibar’s first vice president, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad.
Of these, Hamad was the only person confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus when he wrote his COVID-19 test results to the media. As for the others, the public had to speculate about the causes of their deaths at a time when the world is still battling the coronavirus pandemic and many commonplace Tanzanians have been affected by the effects.
These circumstances have led religious leaders and other critics, particularly on social media, to pressure the government to come up with clear and coherent guidelines to combat the pandemic, while urging individuals to take precautionary measures.
A US-based Tanzanian doctor, Frank Minja, said the change in mind should be welcomed when it was long overdue and could offer an opportunity. “We want to encourage [the president] to implement what we know to be effective faster and implement it immediately, ”he said.
“I don’t mean to say it’s too late because if we say too late it means we might as well do nothing. And because waves are natural due to the pandemic, it is never too late to do the right thing, ”added Minja, who has campaigned for coronavirus awareness on social media.
Dorothy Semu, acting leader of the opposition ACT Wazalendo party, criticized Magufuli, saying the measures taken when the virus first entered the country – including physical distancing and cancellation of major events – should have been maintained.
“I’m a politician, but I also believe in science,” said Semu. “As leaders in charge of people’s lives, it’s important that we make our decisions based on facts. It’s like discovering HIV / AIDS. Some people denied his presence and many people died. So I expected that the president, who is also a scientist, would have continued what we did and that we would have saved many lives. “
Magufuli declared Tanzania “coronavirus-free” in June thanks to the prayers of its citizens [File: AP Photo]Magufuli – a former teacher and industrial chemist – ‘s new stance on wearing masks also appears to have prompted many other public officials and officials to suddenly come forward warning people of the dangers of the coronavirus and the measures that individuals are taking should to protect yourself from the virus.
For example, the agency that operates Dar-es-Salaam’s express buses on Monday said passengers are not allowed to board unless they are wearing a mask.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health, headed by Dorothy Gwajima, who had previously advocated inhalation of steam and a vegetable smoothie to treat COVID-19, issued a statement earlier this week warning people about the virus and urging them to Take precautions.
However, she insisted not to recommend any lockdown measures.
“As the president said, we won last year and the economy continued to grow until we reached middle-income status and coronavirus was still around,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We have not put bans, and even now we are not going to put bans because God is on our side.”