Tanzania is implementing new pandemic restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections, according to an announcement from health minister Abel Makubi.
The new rules include a ban on all flights to or from India, where the coronavirus is spreading at an alarming pace and emerging variants are adding complexity to the world’s ability to contain the virus. Anyone in Tanzania who has traveled to India within the past two weeks must maintain a 14-day quarantine that includes testing and contact tracing.
The measures reflect a change in how Tanzania is managing the pandemic since the death of former president John Magufuli in March. Much to the chagrin of the international community, Magufuli consistently denied the presence of COVID in Tanzania and the overall severity of the coronavirus pandemic around the globe.
Samia Suluhu Hassan, the former vice president who is now leading the country, had promised a different approach. But the eastern African nation still is reporting just 509 cases and 21 deaths, according to the latest update from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s long been believed that COVID cases in Tanzania were underreported, with Magufuli’s denial contributing to the problem. Neighboring Kenya, for example, reports 160,904 cases and 2,805 fatalities. Ethiopia counts 259,354 cases and 3,772 deaths.
The move comes amid rising global concern over India’s outbreak as well as the limited access to vaccines in most African nations. As of Tuesday, India reports some 20.3 million cases and 222,408 deaths.
Image: Samia Suluhu Hassan file