Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | THE INDEPENDENT | Tanzania’s new position on containment of COVID-19 gains momentum tomorrow when President Samia Suluhu Hassan receives her first Coronavirus jab.
It will mark the launch of the COVID-19 immunization campaign in Tanzania, a country that a few months questioned measures being taken worldwide to prevent the pandemic. Former President John Pombe Magufuli in particular was a skeptic who kept Tanzania open even when most countries worldwide instituted lockdown measures last year.
The country however took a new turn after Magufuli’s death in March, with new president Suluhu Hassan recognizing COVID-19 as a health threat. She soon after started wearing a mask for the first time.
Tanzania’s first batch of vaccines were donated by the United States through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative
“Launch of vaccination exercise sets a precedent for our nation in advancing the fight against Covid-19 as a specific addition to other ways of fighting against the pandemic including hand washing with clean running water and soap, wearing face masks especially in dangerous areas with mass gathering,” Minister of Health, Dr Doroth Gwajima said in a statement.
In the past month, Tanzanian health authorities stepped up measures aimed at reinforcing precaution against COVID-19 amid a surge of cases in the third wave of the pandemic.
Abel Makubi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, announced suspension of mass gatherings, including religious congregations and political rallies, until when the pandemic is controlled.
“When such gatherings are necessary to be held, permits should be secured from relevant authorities,” said the official.
He said the measures also include reinforcement of COVID-19 precautionary guidelines in bars, restaurants, meetings, weddings and ceremonial halls.
He said in a statement that all public places should be equipped with thermal scanners, handwashing facilities, adding that people should wear face masks and observe social distancing.
Makubi said weddings should be held at open air, adding that if the weddings are held indoors they should not last long.
Makubi said festivals and music concerts should be done in open air with all precautionary measures observed to the letter.