Tanzania is now reporting weekly statistics on COVID-19 in compliance with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, a major shift from its previous approach on the data updates which was seen as inconsistent.
Zero new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country according to its latest report submitted to WHO on 4 October, indicating a cumulative 25,846 cases of COVID-19 and 719 deaths.
Dr Dorothy Gwajima, the minister responsible for health, said during a media briefing in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam that the government is posting the COVID-19 data on a weekly basis to enable the public to make informed decisions about their health.
However, she said, the updates will only be made available online and “not through press conferences.” Dr Gwajima spoke in the city, shortly after gracing the commemoration of 22 years of the Health Basket Fund.
Since June this year, Tanzania has been under pressure to publish data on COVID-19 as a condition for approval of a $574 million emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
For over a year since May 2020, the country didn’t publish data on COVID-19 infections or deaths as the then administration downplayed the pandemic and remained sceptical about vaccination.
The new administration under President Samia Suluhu Hassan has promoted transparency in the response to the pandemic and allowed COVID-19 vaccination.
By 2 October 2021, a total of 595,938 vaccine doses out of the 1 million donated by the US government through the COVAX facility had been administered.
But the first month of the vaccination drive saw a slow progress, marred by conspiracy theories and myths around the safety of the jab. The president has directed government officials to intensify mass campaigns on vaccination.
The government is racing against time to exhaust the remaining Johnson & Johnson doses before expiry date in December, banking on the recent mass vaccination campaign it has started across the country.
According to Dr Gwajima, Tanzania is expecting to receive 489,042 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China on Friday this week, as part of the COVID-19 vaccination drive. She said another consignment of 576,558 doses are expected this month through the COVAX facility.