Tanzania issues new COVID-19 testing guidelines for travellers

A COVID-19 test now costs $100(TSh231, 900) for Tanzanians travelling abroad as well as tourists visiting or leaving the country, the government said in its latest guidelines.

Residents were initially required to pay TSh40, 000 for the test. The cost was TSh70, 000 for foreigners. New guidelines have not categorised the cost.  All travellers will be required to pay $100 which is equivalent to TSh231, 900 according to the exchange rate.

Some countries, according to the government, have also demanded an antibody test ( IgM Antibody Test); which involves a finger-prick blood sample to prove a recent COVID-19 infection.

The test has now been made a requirement in addition to the routinely used PCR test, said a statement issued by Dr Dorothy Gwajima, the minister responsible for health.

Over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, the importance of reliable and accessible testing has become increasingly apparent in many countries.

Researchers have been looking into various alternatives for screening SARS-CoV-2 virus infection.

Dr Gwajima said the guidelines have been revised in response to ever-changing technological demands, the rising cases of COVID-19 globally and a new strain of the virus.

The cost of running the tests has also gone high due to an increase in the number of international travellers, she added.

The world has so far recorded 85, 091, 012 confirmed cases and 1, 861, 005 deaths, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

What if you test positive for COVID-19?

In the latest advisory, the ministry of health has not stated what a traveler has to do when s/he tests positive for the virus.

Since May last year, Tanzania has not publicly released data on COVID-19 test results or deaths. The country’s only updated number is 509 cases of the viral disease and 21 deaths.

In neighboring countries: Kenya has recorded 97,398 cases and 1,694 deaths while Uganda has 36,407 cases and 290 deaths. Rwanda has seen a steep rise in cases over the last couple of weeks, with 8,955 cases and 100 deaths.

Over five months ago Tanzania revised its guidance for international travelers and amended some of the testing measures.

In the new development, a traveler is advised to take the test five days ahead of the travel date to qualify for a COVID-19 certificate which is valid for 14 days. The last guidelines did not specify the schedules of taking a test.

If you test negative?

“Travelers who test negative will be issued with certificates and their names will be updated electronically…,’’ said the ministry adding that it has increased its testing centres across the country.

Test results will be issued 24 hours before the date of travel for those in Dar es Salaam whereas those out of the commercial capital will get their results 48 hours ahead of the travel date.

“A traveler should be advised to seek information from the embassy of the country of destination,’’ said the ministry.

Tanzania’s position on COVID-19 vaccine

Over a week ago Dr Gwajima told local media that the government was due to issue a statement to clarify its position on the CIVID-19 vaccine as countries around the world embark on vaccination programs.

But over the years, Tanzania has been credited to having achieved 80 to 90 % rates in standard vaccination.

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