Tanzania emerges stronger as it marks two years since first COVID-19 case

Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020 shows an exterior view of the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO on Wednesday night extended to Thursday its emergency talks on whether the novel coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). (Xinhua/Liu Qu)

As Tanzania marks two years since the first COVID-19 case was recorded, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday public health measures, including improved surveillance and contact tracing, have been crucial in curbing the spread of the virus.

“The past two years have been extremely challenging, but we’ve learned crucial public health lessons. We are emerging stronger and look forward to bolstering and improving the health system to be more resilient to future emergencies,” said WHO Country Representative for Tanzania Tigest Ketsela Mengestu.

Two years ago on March 16, 2020, Tanzania recorded its first COVID-19 case in the country’s northern tourist city of Arusha before it spread to other locations.

According to the Ministry of Health report released on March 11, so far, the country has recorded 33,773 COVID-19 cases and 800 deaths.

The WHO said in a statement that vaccination is also being stepped up to help control the pandemic, with a goal to vaccinate 60 percent of the population. Tanzania’s population is about 60 million.

For a period of January 2020 to December 2021, WHO in Tanzania received a total of 6.6 million U.S. dollars from different donors that have been directed toward different activities of the response, including the donation of equipment, training of health workers and health managers.

“WHO is grateful to different donors, supporters, and health workers for the effort that they have put in preparedness and responding to the pandemic. We hope that the collaboration will continue as we step ahead and hope that in a foreseeable future Tanzania will contribute to making COVID-19 no longer a public health threat,” said Mengestu.

The WHO continues to support the country to bolster key pandemic response measures such as surveillance, testing, treatment, and community engagement. It also provided technical guidance and support and with its partners delivered crucial medical supplies and equipment to the country to combat the virus.

“We’ve been at the forefront of the efforts to beat back this pandemic and continue to support all the efforts the national authorities are undertaking to effectively tackle COVID-19 and keep people safe,” said Mengestu.

Vaccination remains a powerful weapon against this pandemic, said the statement, adding that the WHO is working with partner organizations to step up the uptake of the vaccines in the country.

So far, 2,664,373 people have been fully vaccinated in the country. More efforts are needed to reach the wider population to protect them from the risk of severe illness and death.

In the most recent situation report of the state of COVID-19 in Tanzania, the Ministry of Health continued to caution everyone to continue taking precautions by following all prevention measures in public spaces. Enditem

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