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Tanzania Has Been Documenting Covid-19 Statistics Quietly, Minister Says

Tanzania has started acknowledging the crisis and its impact, after President Samia Suluhu Hassan took over in March.

Tanzania’s Deputy Health Minister Godwin Mollel has said that the country never stopped keeping track of the Coronavirus, and that the data is available.

Late former President John Magufuli ordered health officials in May 2020 to stop publishing Covid data, saying the disease was non-existent in Tanzania.

Most of the techniques of combating Covid-19, including lockdowns, wearing of face masks and social distancing were not adhered to strictly, with emphasis being put on use of traditional remedies, including steam inhalation.

Tanzania has started acknowledging the crisis and its impact, after President Samia Suluhu Hassan took over in March.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has preconditioned the new administration to publish Covid-19 statistics before getting approval for a $574 million emergency loan, which is badly needed to tackle the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Publication of such data would be a precondition of moving ahead,” said Jens Reinke, the IMF’s resident representative in Tanzania. “In order to justify emergency financing in the context of the pandemic, you need to publish relevant public-health data.”

Minister Mollel confirmed that; “statistics have always been there”.

“If there were no statistics or updates on what was going on, then everybody would have been very worried,” Mollel told German news network, DW.

Tanzanian government first asked the IMF for a loan under its Rapid Credit Facility in March last year. Negotiations for the facility never progressed, forcing the President Samia Hassan Suluhu administration to revive the request in May, 2021.

East Africa’s second largest economy plans to spend 36.33 trillion shillings ($15.71 billion) in the fiscal year starting next month, a 4% increase from the current financial year.

It will be funded by a mix of local revenue and borrowing, he said, adding that the economy is likely to grow faster this year, after growth was curbed by the pandemic last year.