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Updated Mar 31, 2020

Tanzania has shown much less urgency in handling the COVID-19 pandemic than its Southern African neighbors. Gatherings like church services and funerals are still allowed, and public transport continues to operate as normal. Analysts believe these lax measures are an effort to prevent COVID-19 from hammering Tanzania’s economy, despite relief packages already in the works at the Bank of Tanzania. On Tuesday, March 31, Tanzania had nineteen confirmed cases of COVID-19, but no deaths attributed to the disease.

Bank of Tanzania president Florens Luoga met with members of the Tanzania Bankers Association in Dar es Salaam the week prior to discuss matters related to the pandemic. There has been no news about an anticipated relief package for banks to ensure monetary stability, although a source told The East African that “the plan is still in the pipeline”. Hygiene measures have been encouraged by the government, including the wearing of face masks, handwashing, using sanitizers in public spaces, and enforcing physical distancing. The semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, which has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, has banned all travel to and from the archipelago starting Saturday, March 28.


Why It Matters

Tanzania’s wait-and-see approach to the pandemic risks allowing the disease to spread rapidly and overwhelm the country’s healthcare system, which is lowly ranked by the World Health Organization. Healthcare facilities are mostly concentrated in urban centers, and the country has a chronic shortage of health workers, particularly in the rural areas. This makes for a precarious situation: if the economy does not falter now, it could take a severe downturn if an explosion in the number of COVID-19 cases were to catch the government and economic regulators off-guard.

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