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Tanzania looks to be beating COVID-19

Taiwan leads the world in containing the virus

By Ricky Browne

While countries across the globe are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, some countries appear to be surviving the onslaught much better than others. Others just claim to be.

Across the world there have been some 37 million cases as of October 12th with a total of 1,074,817 deaths according to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.

Globally, over a 24 hour period, there were 307,403 newly infected cases and some 4,441 deaths, the WHO said on October 12th.

There has been much said in the media about the countries with the highest number of deaths, with the United States leading the way.

Up until Monday, the United States had the highest number of deaths with 201,804 people dying from the disease. The US was followed by Brazil with 150,198 deaths; India with 109,150 deaths; Mexico with 83,642 deaths; and the UK with 42,825 deaths.


Not as much has been reported about those countries that appear to have contained the virus.

While the whole continent of Africa has reported much lower rates of infection, perhaps the leading country there is the United Republic of Tanzania. According to WHO statistics, from Jan 3 to 12 October 2020, there have been only 509 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 21 deaths.

A busy street in Dar es Salaam

But less reported has been the countries with the least number of deaths, and of that group, Tanzania in East Africa with a population of 56 million people sticks out as it has seen so few deaths according to the statistics.

That compares to neighbouring countries that are not doing as well. That includes: Kenya with 766 deaths; Zambia with 336 deaths; Malawi, 180 deaths; Uganda with 93 deaths; Congo, 90 deaths; Mozambique, 71 deaths; Rwanda, 31 deaths; with ; Burundi with only one death, but a slightly higher number of confirmed cases with 525.


Over in Tanzania people are going to places of worship unabated. Mask wearing is not enforced.

A street in Stone Town, Zanzibar

And many people point to the story of a Tanzanian paw paw (papaya) being tested positive for the virus, as proof that the pandemic is overstated.

In fact, only four African countries had a lower number of cases than Tanzania, Eritrea with 414 cases and no recorded deaths; and the three Indian Ocean countries of Mauritius, the Seychelles also with no recorded deaths, and the Comoros.

A street in Stockholm, capital of Sweden

Tanzania is being compared by some as a success story similar to Sweden, with its minimal restrictions.

According to the statistics, up to October 12 Sweden had 98,451 cases with 5,894 deaths.

But, unlike Sweden, Tanzania’s official figures are not widely believed.

John Magufuli, President of Tanzania

Tanzania is heading into its national elections on October 28. The government line, led by President John Magufuli, is that Tanzania has basically no problem with COVID-19, and that the country has succesfully defeated it by prayer.

“The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God,” Magufuli announced back in June.

Unfortunately, no one can tell if this is the case or not, as it is reported that the government has kept from public knowledge the real number of COVID-19 cases since April, with the official numbers stuck at 509 cases with 21 deaths since April.

Social distancing is still a thing on Mt Kilamanjaro

And as the election campaign heads up, there has been no restrictions on any kind of gatherings, political or otherwise — except of course for opposition political rallies.

But despite the pronouncements by the government, the situation in Tanzania is viewed differently by other countries.

According to advice given by Gov.UK to British citizens contemplating travel to Tanzania: “Due to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Tanzania, medical facilities and personnel are under strain throughout the country. The availability of treatment for non-coronavirus-related illnesses, particularly for non-urgent care, has been adversely impacted.

A view of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

“There have been instances during the COVID-19 outbreak when hospitals in Dar es Salaam reached full capacity due to the high volume of COVID-19 cases. Limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care.”

It looks like the stage is being set for Magufuli to win a second five-year term. Maybe at that point Tanzania will start to count its cases once more, and the population and government will start to take the virus more seriously.

Or maybe there really have been no new cases since April, and Tanzania has really defeated this virus by praying to God.


Meanwhile if anyone wants to see which country is the real global leader in containing this virus, they won’t find that information in the WHO statistics.

A view of Taipei, capital of Taiwan

Taiwan, otherwise known as the Republic of China, has had great success in defeating COVID-19. Like Tanzania, Taiwan claims a low number of cases at 529, but even less deaths — only seven people have died.

But the country is not listed by the WHO, probably in an effort not to anger China otherwise known as the People’s Republic of China, which believes Taiwan to be a renegade province.

A view of Jamestown, capital of St Helena

The WHO has a search feature, where people can find the coronavirus statistics for countries, regions or territories. But the UK-controlled mid-Atlantic island of St Helena with a population of about 6,000 people and best known for being the final exile of Emperor Napoleon 200 years ago, is listed. St Helena is listed as having zero cases, and zero deaths.

But Taiwan, a country of more nearly 24 million people, is not listed at all.

A view of Wellington, capital of New Zealand

So the world must content itself by instead looking at New Zealand, where the country has also had some success, but not as much as Taiwan. In New Zealand there are 1515 cases with only 25 deaths, but with a population of only 4.9 million people.

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