THERE is no case of coronavirus has so far been detected in the country, the government said yesterday as health authorities remain on high alert owing to the rapid spread of the virus.
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu told a news conference here that authorities have expanded the thermal screening fa- cility at all major airports.
The minister said the novel coronavirus has not been detected in the country yet but insisted the government is taking no chance, revealing that screening exercises for incom ing passengers are conducted in major airports-- Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Kilimanjaro Airport (KIA) and Mwanza Airport.
The minister said about 140 medical equipment had been installed at all major airports, borders and ports and that medical experts have been trained to handle the screening process to reduce the risk of transmission from persons jetting in who might be infected.
According to the minister, Infectious Diseases Unit (IDU) has been set up at Mawenzi in Kilimanjaro, Buswelu in Mwanza and Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam in order to avoid paralysing medical services as well as reducing patients’ traffic at major health facilities in the country.
“Our airports already have thermal scanners in place for purposes of screening. We also have forms that travellers can fill in with questions about the coronavirus,” she explained.
According to Ms Mwalimu, health workers at the country’s three major airports and all borders are on high alert on all people coming from outside the country.
“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 minister said, the patient would be immediately isolated in a temporary holding room and later transferred to a selected Infectious Diseases Unit.
As of January 28, 2020, the virus had infected over 4,000 people and killed over 100 in China.
Cases have been detected in Thailand, Japan, the Republic of South Korea, USA, France and Australia, V ietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia, among others according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Several African governments have issued statements targeting their nationals abroad and at home to raise awareness.
As the number of cases of affected, infected and dead people rose across the world, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) director John Nkengasong activated the agency’s incident management system.
Coronaviruses (CoV ) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV ) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV ).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Unlike other coronaviruses, this particular one is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
To avoid the spread of the illness, people are directed to follow the high standard of hand hygiene, avoid going to crowded places and wear masks if they feel sick.