Tanzania’s President Magafuli eager to ease coronavirus lockdown and restart economy despite concerns from international community

According to several reports, the Tanzanian government is looking to relax its lockdown rules this week.

This is in response to a decline in cases of coronavirus in the country, according to Tanzania’s president, John Magafuli.

He cited statistics from a hospital in Dar es Salaam, which was at one time treating 198 patients for the virus, but was now treating only 12 people.

As part of the relaxation of lockdown, universities look set to reopen, sports will resume and international flights will begin arriving once more.

The government is also looking to kickstart its vital tourism sector at the beginning of next month. Though tourists are currently required to enter into quarantine on crossing into Tanzania, the president has made it clear that he wants to remove that requirement soon – though tourists would have their temperature checked on arrival.   

“If they have no signs of corona, let them go see the animals,” he said.

How the global community has reacted

It’s fair to say that the global community has not been fulsome in its praise of Tanzania’s response to the pandemic over the past few weeks.

The country’s decision to continue with religious services, and to allow local markets to continue to trade, has drawn particular criticism.

Stories of mass burials taking place in secret at night have also raised concerns that the government has been covering up the severity of the outbreak in the country. According to WHO data, there are just 509 confirmed cases and 21 deaths, though many observers believe the figures to be much higher.

The abruptness with which the government has announced a ‘return to normality’ has also left the international community worried.

So while many are pleased to see an easing of lockdown in the country, there remains a great deal of unease at the government’s handling of the pandemic and whether they are putting the country’s economy before the lives of its citizens.

Indeed, just yesterday, (17 May), Kenya closed its borders to both Tanzania and Somalia after 43 new cases were diagnosed amongst people who had recently crossed from those two countries.

You can read more about the situation by following this link to a Reuters article on the subject of coronavirus in Tanzania