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After death of Covid-denying president, Tanzania sets roadmap to combat the virus

Before he died in mid-March, former leader John Magafuli repeatedly dismissed the seriousness of Covid-19 in his country and urged his citizens to “pray coronavirus away.”
Now, a special committee established by Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has issued a range of recommendations to tackle the Covid-19 situation in the country.

One of those recommendations is to impose restrictions to curb a looming third wave in the country, the committed said in a statement published Monday.

The committee also recommended that Tanzania begin procuring Covid-19 vaccines and join the worldwide vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX, backed by the World Health Organization.

The statement offered up a potential vaccine rollout plan, once the country obtains shots, that would prioritize frontline workers, adults over 50, and those who are immunocompromised.

Tanzania under the Magufuli regime made no bids for coronavirus vaccines, despite qualifying for the COVAX scheme. The government instead promoted nonpharmaceutical approaches such as herbal treatments and steam inhalation to combat the viral disease.

The special committee also recommended the government resume response and public health information campaigns on the Covid-19 situation in Tanzania, including reporting cases. The East African nation stopped reporting Covid-19 cases in late April 2020.

Tanzania has been hit by “two major waves” of Covid-19 since the outbreak in March 2020, the committee acknowledged. It warned that the country was under the threat of a possible third wave.

The extent of Tanzania’s Covid-19 crisis since the outbreak is largely unknown since the government stopped releasing data and downplayed the threat of the virus. Earlier this year, the US embassy among other organizations in the country warned that Covid-19 cases in the country were surging.

Tanzanian president ditches late predecessor's rejection of masks

The committee urged the government to “provide accurate information on the Covid-19 disease to the public and the World Health Organization.”

President Suluhu has received the report but did not indicate if or when the restrictions would be implemented.

The committee’s statement comes more than a week after Hassan publicly stressed to Tanzanians the importance of wearing face masks, ditching another of her predecessor’s controversial stances.

Bethlehem Feleke and Larry Madowo reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and Nimi Princewill reported from Abuja, Nigeria.

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