Zambia closed off its border with neighboring Tanzania on Monday, May 10, following the highest surge yet in COVID-19 cases in a single day. Zambian health minister Chitalu Chilufya was quoted in the Tanzanian daily The Citizen saying, “No traffic will be allowed in or out of the district,” referring to Nakonde District on the border. No timetable was set for reopening the border post.
A Contrary Approach Across the Border
Zambian health officials recorded 85 more cases on Saturday, 76 of which were from Nakonde. The Zambian response is in stark contrast to how the Tanzanian authorities are handling the pandemic; they relaxed restrictions on international flights on the same day as the border closure. To date, Tanzania has reported 509 cases and 21 deaths, and Zambia 267 cases and 7 deaths, according to Worldometers.
Tanzania president John Magufuli has also expressed skepticism over the severity of the virus, alleging earlier in May that diagnostic tests were flawed and recently importing Madagascar’s Covid-Organics herbal tea remedy as a viral treatment despite no clear evidence proving the drink’s efficacy, putting him and Tanzania at odds with World Health Organization scientists.