Like most governments around the world, the Government of Tanzania has begun to implement preventative measures to stop the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak which originated in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China.
So far there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Tanzania, although a number of isolated cases have already been confirmed in other African counties such as Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria.
There has only been one fatality from the virus in Africa so far – a German tourist on vacation in Egypt, and the spread of COVID-19 on the continent has been limited compared to other territories.
Nonetheless, the Tanzanian government has decided to implement new travel restrictions and preventative measures to combat the outbreak, considered of high importance due to the country’s reliance on Chinese tourism, trading opportunities, and business investment.
How Is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting Tanzania?
Tanzania has close trade ties with China, which makes it one of the African countries most at risk of contracting cases of COVID-19.
Although Chinese citizens have not been banned from obtaining a visa for Tanzania and entering the country, there has been a noticeable drop in visitors from China since the outbreak began, not to mention a dwindling influx of Chinese imported goods.
This is especially noticeable in the central Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam, the biggest market in Tanzania, which heavily relies on manufactured products imported from China. Now, however, the traders are having problems replacing stock, which is driving up the retail price.
The problem appears to lie more with restrictions on the Chinese side, as the Tanzanian government has not yet implemented any restrictions against Chinese boats docking at ports in the country.
However, Dr. Janeth Mgamba, the assistant director of epidemiology at the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, has asserted that health authorities are on high alert and that serval precautionary measures are already being taken.
Preventative Measures Implemented in Tanzania
Dr. Mgamba stated that several measures have been made to strengthen Tanzania’s borders at ports of entry, including screening travelers from affected countries such as China.
In addition to employing more border control staff, the Tanzanian Health Ministry has installed new screening processes to detect any possible cases of infection. These include around 140 thermal scanners at ports of entry to the country, including at Tanzania’s main transport hub, Kilimanjaro Airport.
Tanzania Airports Authority health officer George Ndaki confirmed that some suspected cases have been detected using the machines, indicating that the scanners are an effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Tanzania.
Additional measures being implemented include:
- Having ambulances on standby at ports of entry to take any infected patients to hospitals
- Identifying and establishing isolation centers in the north, east, and west of the country
- The stockpiling of thermometers
- Training more than 2,000 new health workers
- Banning the traditional handshake between football players at the start of a match and replacing it with a ‘footshake’.
Additionally, a Mobile Lab project has been set up by the East African Community in order to help test for coronavirus infection and provide treatment in Tanzania’s more remote areas.
Measures Travelers Should Take in Tanzania
Travelers who are planning to visit Tanzania are advised to take the necessary basic precautions advised by medical practitioners in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
These include personal hygiene precautions such as:
- Frequently washing hands
- Avoid touching nose, mouth, and face
- Avoid close physical contact with others
- Cover mouth when coughing or use a face mask.
Additionally, travelers should make sure they are up to date with all of the vaccinations needed for Tanzania to combat other diseases present in the country such as Diphtheria and Hepatitis B. It is also worth taking a look at the information portal about the Ebola Virus to learn how to avoid this type of infection while in Tanzania.
Flight and Entry Restrictions for Tanzania
Although Tanzania has yet to set any flight or entry restrictions for any country, many airlines have independently suspended flights to China because of the coronavirus concerns. Air Tanzania has also scrapped its own plans to introduce a route to Guangzhou in China until the outbreak has been contained.
Tanzanian tour agency Unity Travel has said it has already noted a drop in demand for flights from Tanzania to China, as well as a decline in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals.
However, it should be noted that Tanzania visas for Chinese citizens are still being issued at the moment, and those arriving from China are still able to enter the country once passing through the screening processes at the port of entry.
Travelers planning to visit Tanzania while the COVID-19 outbreak is ongoing are advised to check their government’s Safety and Security Advice for Tanzania for updates as they develop.