Coronavirus: ‘Our people live from hand-to-mouth, total lockdown won’t work’


Tanzania is still far from a lockdown, Health deputy minister Faustine Ndugulile said yesterday – adding that even the 17 Covid-19 patients under quarantine were in “very stable” conditions.

“As you are aware, we have so far registered 20 cases. Two have been healed and reintegrated with their families, whereas one passed away on March 31. The good news is that none of the remaining patients is in a critical condition,” said Dr Ndugulile.

Dr Ndugulile – who was speaking to The Citizen in an exclusive interview – said the measures they have taken at the ministry so far are enough to fight the outbreak. Other measures will follow – depending on developments.

“When you look at the dynamics, most Tanzanians live from hand-to-mouth, and have to leave their homes to survive. So, when you go for a total lockdown, it means some will die of hunger” at home, the deputy minister explained.

Measures they started with included strengthening preparedness to deal with the outbreak, and they are now at a good response level.

“Our preparedness and response have always been key in tackling such outbreaks. For example, during the Ebola outbreak, despite the fact that we are neighbours with countries that have been affected by the malady, Tanzania was never hit by the deadly disease,” he said.

Dr Ndugulile ruled out the possibility of conducting mass testing for the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they only take samples from patients who have shown symptoms of infection.

“When we take patients into quarantine, we closely monitor them – and it is not until they show signs of developing the disease that we take test samples.” He noted that the virus can only be beaten by observing hygienic measures such as hand-washing and social distancing.

Dr Ndugulile’s interview comes on a day when the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described the coronavirus pandemic as humanity’s worst crisis since World War II!

Since emerging in China in December 2019, Covid-19 has spread across the globe, claiming over 70,000 lives and infecting more than 1 million people.

In a scramble to halt the contagion, governments have shut schools and most shops, while ordering millions of people to work from home.

Cancellations of key events on the global calendar have swept both the sports and cultural worlds, with the Edinburgh Arts Festival being the latest to be scrapped.

— Citizen

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