COVID-19 Shutdown continues 

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TEL AVIV, Israel, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has ordered the immediate closure of schools, suspension of all sporting activities and public gathering for a month to curb the spreading of coronavirus.

Schools that will be affected are kindergarten, primary and secondary.

PM has announced these measures a day after Tanzania confirmed the first coronavirus case in Arusha.

Due to this decision, Form Six examinations expected to start in May will be rescheduled, the Premier added while speaking to reporters at his office in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Majaliwa has named special centres to treat coronavirus patients and monitoring the suspected cases including Mloganzila Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Mawenzi (Kilimanjaro), Buswelu (Mwanza), Mnazi Mmoja and Chakechake Hospitals in Zanzibar Isles.

All universities and colleges across the country have been shut with immediate effect for thirty days in government’s another bold step aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the decision while revealing that two more coronavirus cases were recorded in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, making it a total of three confirmed cases so far.

In a televised media briefing, the Premier said the new patients include a 61-year old American citizen and a German national who is in Zanzibar.

The decision to close universities and colleges came a day after the government announced a 30-day closure of all nursery, primary and secondary schools in the country.

“Most students of higher learning institutions are now on holiday, therefore they shouldn’t go back to colleges until further notice and for those who are in examinations, they should stop with immediate effect, so that to avoid mass gathering,” the Prime Minister directed.

Mr Majaliwa also instructed the Minister for Education, Science and Technology Prof. Joyce Ndalichako to revisit the schedule of final examinations for students of teaching colleges in May.

The PM, however, insisted that people should continue with their daily activities as the government continuously assesses the situation and will be updating the public with accurate information frequently.

He insisted that normal services such as shops, markets and transport should continue with maximum attention paid to all preventive measures against further spreading of coronavirus.

“For commuter buses, operators should make sure that their vehicles are not overloaded with passengers,” he noted.

He reassured the country that the government was taking all possible measures to control the spread of the disease in the country, noting the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, was working hard to address the problem.

On Tuesday, the Government suspended school programmes for a month. It also announced the postponement of Six National examinations which was scheduled to commence on May 4, this year, while asking students to remain calm as the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was working on the new timetable which will also be determined on the success of the anti-COVID-19 fight.

The Government also suspended unnecessary gatherings such as sports activities, music concerts, political activities, graduations and other social activities. Mr Majaliwa directed Ministries and Institutions to suspend all seminars, workshops, symposium and all meetings which involve participants from the worst-hit countries.

He further directed all regional and district commissioners in the areas with quarantines centres to ensure availability of all needed equipment all the time.

Going forward, he reminded Tanzanians to use social media properly by not disseminating false information as they will mislead others and cause severe impact, instead they should keep observing the guidelines issued by the government to protect themselves.

“We should stop making jokes out of this coronavirus on social media, it’s too bad,” he warned.

And, those who suspect the presence of a patient with coronavirus symptoms should report to the authorities for immediate response through free toll numbers: 0800-110-124, 0800-110-125 and 0800-110-037.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has appealed to Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to make joint efforts in the fight against deadly global pandemic-COVID-19 and adhere to health procedures in a bid to contain the spread of the disease.

The Premier warned of the economic consequences if the disease further spread across member countries, saying there will be far-reaching repercussions across the entire region.

“We must fight it and prevent new infections by strictly adhering to containment measures. This is a big war which we must fight, otherwise, it will affect our economies in the region,” Mr Majaliwa said yesterday in Dar es Salaam when opening the SADC council of ministers videoconference.

He emphasized: “On behalf of SADC, I call upon the Member States to unite and jointly pray to our Almighty God in this fight against the COVID-19, along with continuous adherence to health procedures in controlling the disease”.

At Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) Tanzania’s Ministers joined their counterparts from 13 countries out of 16 to follow the session through a videoconference mode.

The ministers’ conference was preceded by the senior officials’ video conference which was held for two days from Monday this week.

“As you may be aware that we were forced to conduct the meeting via videoconferencing following advice from SADC ministers responsible for health who met under urgency in the city recently,” the Premier noted.

The Ministers recommended a videoconferencing method as preventive measures against spread of the global coronavirus pandemic in the region.

A day later, Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi revealed that the planned meetings of the Senior Officials and Council of Ministers would no longer be conducted face-to-face.

The Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) facilitated the SADC videoconferencing.

Earlier, welcoming the Prime Minister, the Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi, said during the one-day conference the Ministers would receive and discuss a report on the preparation of the community’s vision 2050 and strategic plan.

“We need new strategic ideas that will provide guidance for continued benefits arising from our integration,” said Prof. Kabudi, who doubles as Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation.

He noted that the vision should serve as a tool for addressing challenges facing the community and the world such as youth unemployment and empowering special groups economically.

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