Tanzania to release Covid-19 data again after 400 days of denial

President Samia Suluhu Hassan

TANZANIA is set to start issuing COVID-19 data from July this year, for the first time since 29th April 2020 when then President John Magufuli ordered the government to stop publishing data on the grounds that God had saved the country from Corona after three days of fasting and prayer.

For the next 412 days, Tanzania became a global laughing stock for nurturing a queer position of denying the existence of Covid-19, hence avoiding necessarily precautions as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

By that time Tanzania had reported 509 covid-19 infections, 183 recoveries and 21 deaths.

But the new administration under President Samia Suluhu is taking a complete opposite direction.

Sources from State House, the Ministry of Health and within the experts task force formed by President Samia to advise her on how the East African country would handle the pandemic, say all preparations to start issuing COVID-19 data are in place and “will soon be available.”

This action is in line with Samia’s word during her first address to the National Assembly one month ago when she said the country would find ways to tackle the pandemic by observing a scientific approach.

Whereas her predecessor had strongly campaigned against the effectiveness of vaccines, the experts task force advised President Samia to advocate for vaccination of frontline workers and vulnerable people, on voluntary basis.

It is clear that Tanzania is now likely to benefit from the international fund bucketful, including the approval for a $574 million emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The refusal to report statistics on COVID-19 infections and deaths was a major reason for Tanzania to miss out on some of the funding from international financial institutions.

Tanzania’s Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba has announced that the government is in negotiations with the IMF to secure $571 million to mitigate the economic and social effects of the pandemic.

“The government intends to direct the funds towards bolstering official foreign reserves, improve expenditure in health and water sectors as well as boost tourism services,” he said.

He said President Samia had held a cybernetic meeting with IMF Executive Director Kristalina Georgieva to strengthen economic and social relations, including strategies to address the impact of COVID-19.

Tanzania’s economic growth, just like many countries, was highly affected by the global pandemic with the country’s economic growth rate estimated to grow at an average of 4.8 percent this year from prior estimation of 6.9 proportion.

In the meantime, Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima has called on Tanzanians to wear face masks in congested areas.

It is the same minster who under Magufuli had discouraged the use of masks as a way of coping with the president’s demand, simply to save her job as she also jeopardised people’s lives.