By Spy Uganda Correspondent
A few days after Tanzania expressed its interest in joining the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility, the government warned citizens of a third wave of COVID-19 and directed that all precautions to be taken, including the wearing of face masks. Authorities say cases are on the rise in all bordering countries, including Uganda, and that there are indicators the disease may again hit the country.
Speaking with journalists Saturday, the director of prevention from Tanzania’s Heath Ministry, Leonard Subi, insisted citizens take all necessary precautions to protect themselves from infection.
He reminded all citizens not to ignore COVID-19. The ministry has begun to see an indication of the occurrence of the third wave of COVID-19 Subi says. He added this is due to the monitoring reports of the disease being carried out by the ministry and the interaction between Tanzanians and other nations.
In April of last year Tanzania stopped publishing COVID-19 data as the then president, the late John Magufuli, declared God had eliminated the infection.
Opposition politicians such as Yerico Nyerere from the Party of Democracy and Development, or CHADEMA, say the government should emphasize controlling movements particularly in the area bordering Uganda, where the virus has hit strongly. Soon after Magufuli’s death in March of this year, new president Samia Hassan started a change in handling COVID infections, including admitting its presence. Now the country is waiting for vaccines.
Nyerere says those areas that have interactions with countries such as Uganda, where there is a high wave of the virus, should enforce serious controls, if possible, even closing the border with Uganda. He says Tanzania does not want to enter into the stage that Uganda has reached, lockdown.
Tanzanians see the need for the government to enforce nationwide prevention campaigns that will also reach village people.
Dar es Salaam resident Imani Henrick says she thinks the government should put in place an inclusive strategy, including encouraging people to wear masks and wash their hands. She says and there should be supervision from the government, not just saying people should take precautions. Henrick says there are people in the villages who know nothing about precautions and they can’t even afford face masks. So, Henrick adds, the government should come with a strategic plan, even including distributing free face masks, particularly for those in the villages and those who mostly meet with large numbers of people.
For Ibrahim Chawe, another Dar es Salaam resident, things have changed and he hopes the government will fully implement all the precautions that were recommended by the COVID-19 committee formed by Hassan, including the publication of data.
Chawe says publicizing information about COVID-19 and telling people to take precautions is a big step compared to the previous period. Chawe adds that before, wearing of masks was not approved of, but now there are major changes in how the infections are being handled.
Since Hassan took office in March she has sought to gradually bring Tanzania in line with global public standards for tackling COVID-19.