Is there Coronavirus in Tanzania?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. 

Today, major airlines such as Delta and American Airlines have announced they were suspending all service to China due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. They are the most recent in a growing list of companies that have canceled all flights as a response to the outbreak.

The virus, first detected in December in the city of Wuhan, China, has since spread to many countries: USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, France, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Germany, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

Coronavirus in Tanzania

There have been no cases of coronavirus in Tanzania, or Africa as a whole.

Health authorities in Tanzania remain on high alert. The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ms. Ummy Mwalimu stated that 140 pieces of medical equipment had been installed at all major airports, borders and ports.

“Our airports already have thermal scanners in place for purposes of screening,” she stated.

Additionally, staff has been trained to handle the screening process for incoming passengers. Thermal screening is conducted at the major airports – Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Kilimanjaro Airport (KIA) and Mwanza Airport.

“We have also provided training to 2,297 health practitioners so far on how to deal with infectious diseases and disaster management, including how they should provide medical services, as well as taking samples and testing infectious diseases,” said the minister.

“In the last two weeks we screened 1,520 visitors coming into the country from China and Asia via airports and borders and we have intensified screening for symptoms such as flu, cough, fever, difficulty in breathing and running nose,” she added.

If it happens that there is any suspected case in the country where a person at any medical facility shows coronavirus-like symptoms, the patient would be immediately isolated in a temporary holding room and later transferred to a selected Infectious Diseases Unit.

What is the Coronavirus Death Toll?

As of January 31, 2020, more than 200 people have died from the coronavirus, with about 9,800 infections confirmed. However, experts believe in Wuhan alone, the diseases epicenter, 105,077 people could have been infected by the virus. 

This interactive site created by researchers at Johns Hopkins University shows the confirmed cases, deaths and number who have recovered.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can infect the respiratory tract and cause symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. Coronaviruses are common. In fact, almost everyone gets infected with a kind of coronavirus at some point. Usually, the symptoms are mild and last for just a few days. 

The UN’s health agency says that the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan is a never-before-seen strain, named 2019-nCoV.

According to Arnaud Fontanet, head of the department of epidemiology at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, the new strain is the seventh known type of coronavirus that humans can contract. Fontanet said the current virus strain was 80% genetically identical to SARS, which also causes severe breathing problems.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Experts believe the source may have been animals sold at the Wuhan market that passed to the human population.

For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. 

Spread is by contact with infected secretions or by large aerosol droplets, so close contact increases risk of transmission. Coronaviruses are more easily spread among hospitalized or institutionalized populations or others in closed conditions.

There are currently no recommended antiviral treatments for coronavirus infections in humans. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

The WHO has advised that individuals should protect themselves against the virus by thoroughly washing their hands, covering their noses when they sneeze, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and avoiding close contact with wild or farm animals.

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See Should I be Concerned About Ebola While Climbing Kilimanjaro?

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