Dar es Salaam. The government said yesterday that Covid-19 statistics will be made public on a weekly basis, and urged the public to adhere to the recommended prevention methods against the coronavirus.
Tanzania submitted the latest report to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 3, 2021 at 6:36pm indicating there were 25,846 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 719 deaths.
The Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima, told journalists in Dar es Salaam that the weekly release of statistics is a confirmation that Covid-19 is still a public health threat in the country.
Since June this year, Tanzania has been under pressure to publish data on the spread of coronavirus as a condition for approval of a $574 million emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But speaking in Dar es Salaam, shortly after officiating the commemoration of 22 years of Health Basket Fund, Dr Gwajima said the Covid-19 data was now available as per WHO requirements.
She further urged the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to prevent suffering from severe forms of the disease or the risk of death.
She said the statistics would be available online and the WHO website instead of press conferences. “It is not possible to conduct a press conference every day to brief reporters. Through the WHO website, we update the statistics weekly for everyone to access.”
As of October 2, a total of 595,938 vaccine doses had been administered to Tanzanians, and the government was expecting to receive more 489,042 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China as part of the Covid-19 vaccination strategy.
Dr Gwajima confirmed that the vaccines would arrive in the country on Friday. She said that another consignment of 576,558 doses is expected this month from the Covax facility.
“We should continue taking prevention measures as well as getting vaccinated,” she said.
Tanzania launched mass vaccinations in late July after receiving slightly over a million doses of Johnson and Johnson jabs donated by the US.
What expert and public say
Speaking to The Citizen, Dr Elisha Osati, a specialist in Internal Medicine at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and Immediate Past President of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) said the regular release of statistics would help the public to make informed health choices. “When data is made public, it helps the public to know the extent of the problem and take precautions at all times,’’ said Dr Osati. “But also the presence of such information will prompt people to take jabs,’’ he added.
However, the public release of Covid-19 data has been a requirement of the WHO for all countries. But Tanzania had halted the public release of data since May 2020 after the government claimed the “release of data was fuelling panic among the public.”
A resident at Kibamba Rosemary Mtweve said: “Since the government stopped providing this data for a while, people had forgotten about Covid-19 and even wearing a facemask is not something that they no longer take seriously.”
“This data will help us to know the trends of the problem and why people must be careful,’’ said Ms Mtweve.