Covid-19 – Tanzania’s Measured Response
July 30, 2020
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A Dutch journalist based in Kenya got ‘stuck’ in Tanzania after borders were closed as a measure against the spread of Covid19. Like the British journalist who decided to stay there to look after his dogs, it’s the fact that both foreigners can move about freely in the country, there is no curfew or infringements on basic freedoms in the name of public health, that is most revealing about how Tanzania’s response to the threatened epidemic has fared.
The Dutchman did what he calls a ‘survey’, because he finds it hard to believe that numbers infected in Tanzania are low when they are said to be high in other African countries. With all the scare stories about the virus threatening widespread destruction on the continent, the intrepid reporter has missed the fact that only around 0.09% of Africans have been confirmed to have been infected (fewer than 1m).
He visited the town and found people getting on with their lives, going to and from work, buying and selling goods in the markets; he went to graveyards and found nothing startling; hospitals looked normal, though staff and guards were wearing masks. He even went clubbing the week before, and neither he nor the people he was with had any virus some time later.
Aside from rumors among other foreigners, who were warning fellow foreigners to work from home and to ‘be careful’, the Dutchman decided that he would ‘take the risk’ to go back to Kenya. So they all had homes, and jobs that could be done from home.
Meanwhile Kenya, and neighboring Uganda, struggle to keep law and order, if that’s what you’d call their dusk to dawn curfews. Kenya wants to extend their curfew for another month, and people continue to be persecuted, beaten and killed in both countries. An estimated 10 million people face severe food shortages in Sudan.
The Dutch journalist should think carefully about returning to Kenya; in fact, he should seriously consider staying in Tanzania. The enormous damage that a disproportionate response can do is already evident in poor countries. According to some sources, the damage will be soon be felt in some rich countries, as well.