Dar es Salaam/Arusha/Moshi. Cancellation of gatherings organized by different entities gained momentum yesterday as Tanzania escalated precautionary measures to prevent spread of coronavirus after confirming its first case.
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said on Monday that a 46-year-old Tanzanian woman had tested positive for the illness after returning from Belgium on March 15, where she had been staying with a relative sick with coronavirus.
The woman, who was recovering in hospital in Arusha, was not detected by temperature scanners at Kilimanjaro Airport but reported herself for testing.
From government to companies and international organisations, their several meetings were either suspended or changed into video conferences to avoid physical contact which can facilitate the spread of the viral pandemic.
The government championed the move by suspending this year’s Uhuru Torch race, the Premier League and ban all public gathering. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa also announced yesterday the closing of all schools for 30 days effective yesterday. “All these are preliminary measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Tanzania,” said Mr Majaliwa. KCMC, a referral hospital in Kilimanjaro also postponed a four-day conference that was scheduled to host cancer experts from April 1 this year.
“We will no longer host this important event which would bring in cancer specialists from around the globe due to coronavirus which is posing risk to travellers,” hospital’s managing director Gileard Masenga told reporters.
While the ruling CCM announced to suspend all its meetings and rallies, opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi also said it would suspend its scheduled gatherings following the COVID-19.
NMB Bank PLC announced to postpone a shareholder meeting scheduled for Wednesday (today) citing the same concerns.
“This meeting will attract various attendants, some from countries that are already affected by the coronavirus outbreak. As a responsible organization, we have decided not to continue with the meeting and instead take appropriate precautionary measures to ensure safety of our shareholders and other stakeholders,” said the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE)-listed bank in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers who were meeting in Tanzania joined the world in trying to curtail further spreading of the virus by abandoning face-to-face meetings and opt for videoconferencing. The East African Community (EAC) suspended rental use of its facilities for meetings as the regional Assembly session has been called off. However, the regional organization will opt for video conferencing for the necessary meetings.
The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) plenary session was scheduled to be held from Arusha from Thursday for three weeks.
“The session has been suspended as a precautionary measure to prevent any risk of contracting COVID-19,” Speaker Martin Ngoga said yesterday in a statement.
“All scheduled meetings would be held through video conferencing where possible,” the EAC secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko said yesterday.
Reported by Alawi Masare in Dar es Salaam, Janeth Joseph in Moshi and Zephania Ubwani in Arusha