Epidemiologist Dr. Titus Divala has urged President Lazarus Chakwera and his delegation in Tanzania to continue adhering to the recommended COVID-19 guidelines including wearing masks whenever visiting any country outside Malawi.
The concern follows pictures on social media showing Chakwera who is on a three day visit, with no mask on as he arrived in Dares Salaam as he was welcomed at the airport by his counterpart President John Magufuli.
Divala said that the pandemic has hit all the countries in the world and that Tanzania is no exception and that for some reason the east African country has resorted not to talk about it.
From a public health perspective, he stated that if someone has been to places of high exposure whose status is not known such as Tanzania which has decided to completely stop following anything to do with COVID-19, there is need to be cautious.
According to the health specialist, if someone has been in a country of higher exposure, upon their return they should ideally be screened and upon return they should be given the necessary advice to quarantine for 14 days.
“So i would have expected his Excellency to consider following COVID-19 measures just to make sure that he’s also not responsible for being careless and bringing the disease to a country where we’re already experiencing a nicely downward trend in infections.
“Ideally for this whole discussion we’re having, ideally the President should have observed measures and when he is coming back hopefully his entourage someone would advise him on what to do but whatever the case he should do his best not to expose others should he have been exposed to COVID-19 while outside the country,” advised Divala.
While Malawi has seen a significant decline in its COVID-19 figures and the disease seems to be parting away, he however cautioned the public to celebrate while working hard not to return to the period when things were bad.
“But I would say whilst we are celebrating we should still celebrate with our masks on our hands washed, our distance watched because there is always a tendency of the disease bouncing back as you may have seen in other countries,” cautioned the College of Medicine epidemiologist.
Tanzanian authorities have not released official figures on the extent of the outbreak there since the start of May this year.
President Magufuli is on record to have said the virus has been largely defeated, but the lack of data has led to increasing concern over the true level of infections.
Tanzania’s neighbours and international health organisations have expressed concerns that downplaying the epidemic there could adversely impact the wider region.
In mid-June, the country’s Prime Minister told Parliament there were 66 active Coronavirus cases, without providing further details.