Tanzania: New Labs to Enhance Coronavirus Testing

THE Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu said yesterday the government was setting up six new laboratories to enhance Coronavirus testing in the country.

Currently, Tanzania relies on a single available level-three laboratory at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to perform COVID-19 diagnosis.

According to Ms Ummy, as of yesterday, the existing lab has managed to test 273 samples out of which 13 tested positive.

She told reporters that the government was intensifying its battle against the novel virus, noting that the country had no local transmission.

Briefing on the status of the coronavirus and measures taken by the government to fight against the COVID- 19, the minister said, one new case was reported in Zanzibar on Wednesday.

Giving a breakdown in terms of regions and the number of patients of coronavirus, the minister noted that Arusha region had two patients, Dar es Salaam (8), Zanzibar (2) and Kagera (1).

She said that all patients were doing well and no critical case reported, so far. Moreover, she added that, from January 1, this year, 1,890,532 travellers were screened at 27 country’s entry points.

The minister said the new laboratories are set at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) centres of Mbeya, Tanga, Mwanza and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology.

The minister said the first person to be reported positive after treatment has now been negative as plans to release her back to the community are underway as she called upon the public against stigmatisation.

Within four days from March 23, the number of people kept in mandatory isolation in both Mainland and Zanzibar are 245.

The regional authorities have been directed to set up mandatory isolation places which are affordable for people from all walks of life as she urged the public that being in isolation does not mean they are positive but rather a prevention measure.

She underscored the need for health experts to offer psychosocial support to the people in mandatory isolation as the move is intending to prevent further spread of the contagion.

Speaking during the press conference, Zanzibar’s Health Minister, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohamed insisted on spacing as it is one of the measures to prevent the viral disease spread.

However, he told Zanzibaris who are outside the country to decide within three days to return home after which they will be obliged to stay where they are until the disease comes to an end. As of yesterday, global coronavirus cases hit more than 488,000, with over 22,000 deaths reported.

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