Coronavirus in Tanzania: What do we know?
A service in Tanzania - without social distancing
The authorities in Tanzania have not released official figures on the extent of the outbreak since early May.
Schools are slated to reopen on June 29, and President John Magufuli said the virus has been largely defeated, but the lack of data has raised concerns about the true level of infection.
Tanzania's neighbors and international health organizations have raised concerns that downplaying the epidemic there could affect the entire region.
Where's the data?
In mid-June, the country's prime minister informed Parliament that 66 cases of coronaviruses were active, but gave no further details.
Aside from this announcement, the government has not released data on infections or deaths. The president said the release of the numbers caused unnecessary panic.
Human rights defenders say health workers are afraid to talk about the scale of the crisis.
"Tanzania has always had very repressive laws against freedom of expression and the press," says Roland Ebole, regional researcher at Amnesty International.
"We are now seeing that these laws are being used more intensively to address those who speak, especially about Covid-19," said Ebole.
The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have "strongly" urged Tanzania to release their latest outbreak data.
The latest detailed figures released on April 29 reported 480 cases and 21 deaths (its Zanzibar island area added 29 more cases in early May).
President Magufuli later provided limited data on patients with Covid-19 who were admitted to hospitals and health centers.
He said the number of patients in two large hospitals in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, had dropped from 228 to 18, although he did not specify a time frame for these numbers. He also gave numbers for several other hospitals across the country.
Since then, government officials have provided some data three times, but in a way that makes it difficult to make comparisons.
The country's prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said in late May that the number of patients in the two main hospitals in Dar es Salaam had dropped to just two. The total national number of hospitals he mentioned was 32.
The country's health minister, Ummy Mwalimu, told a meeting in the Tanga coastal region in early June that the two main hospitals treating coronavirus patients in the country had only four patients.
She mentioned other regions where there were no cases, but which did not give the total at national level or whether further deaths had been reported.
President Magufuli in December 2019 - He was criticized for not having published any data on the corona virus
"If we don't have full reporting, it is difficult to determine and validate this in terms of good public health practice," said John Nkengasong, CDC chief in Africa, to the BBC.
In May, the US embassy in Tanzania issued a warning that many hospitals in the city had been "overwhelmed" in the past few weeks.
"The risk of getting Covid-19 in Dar es Salaam is extremely high. Despite limited official reports, all evidence suggests exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar and other places in Tanzania," the warning said.
The government rejected the warning and called the US envoy.
In the recent warning, the message warns that "given the suspected prolonged transmission from the community in Dar es Salaam and other locations in Tanzania, the risk of Covid-19 infection remains high."
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Tanzania's neighbors are increasingly concerned
The transmission of the virus across Tanzania's borders is particularly important for its neighbors.
Tanzania's borders remain open
These routes are often used for goods transport in the region and there is a fear that truck drivers and other travelers will spread the virus.
Tests are carried out on people traveling from Tanzania to Kenya, Zambia and Uganda (and in some cases sent back if they are positive).
Zambia's Nakonde district, which lies south of the Tanzania border, has seen by far the most cases in the country, higher than the country's capital, Lusaka.
There is an important trade route that leads through this region and delivers goods from Tanzania's ports to Zambia, which is located inland.
The situation is similar in Kenya: officials test truck drivers before they are allowed to enter the country.
In May, more than 100 people from Tanzania tested positive for corona virus and were sent back.
The blocking measures in Tanzania were limited
At least 15 Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive at Ugandan border test points in May.
Government under pressure
The government is concerned about the economic impact of a ban and its impact on the major tourism industry.
It is also said that the tests were flawed, with samples of one fruit and one goat being tested positive.
But there is growing dismay at Mr. Magufuli and his resistance to following the advice of international experts.
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