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A health worker briefs of Al-Haramain Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on June 1, 2020. Schools in Tanzania have reopened, with President Samia Suluhu’s government saying it is revising its earlier guidelines on curbing the spread of Covid-19. Photo ERICKY BONIPHACE/AFP

 

Schools in Tanzania reopened Monday, with the government saying it is revising its earlier guidelines on curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Health Ministry permanent Secretary Abel Makubi said the government reached a decision to revise the guidelines following a rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 infections globally.

“The Health Ministry has been closely following the Covid-19 outbreak trend within and outside the country and found that the number of patients has been increasing in the recent past, signalling the presence of transmissions in our communities,” Prof Makubi told a press conference in Dodoma.

He said the government revisited its 2020 Covid-19 preventive guidelines to schools, universities and educational institutions and made some improvements on them.

“This guideline is targeting to create a conducive environment [in] the educational institutions including universities, primary and secondary schools, nursery schools and day-care centres before students resume classes,” noted Prof Makubi.

To make that happen, the guideline has considered four areas. These are preparation of a conducive environment in educational institutions before resumption of studies, health examination, public transport to and from school and the learning environment.

He said the Education ministry and other concerned ministries should ensure that all educational institutions install hand-washing facilities.

He added that students and teachers should be educated on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

He said administrations should ensure students and staff observe at least one metre physical distance at all times.

For schools and universities with large numbers of students, he directed them to adopt the shift system.

Use of masks

“The Education ministry should ensure schools and universities prioritise the correct use of masks. Students, teachers, lecturers should put them on at all times,” directed Prof Makubi.

He added that students who are confirmed to be Covid-19 positive should remain at home until they recover.

Covid vaccine

Prof Makubi on Sunday also said that Tanzania has joined the international Covax facility that helps low income countries to get subsidised Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers abroad. The country will receive its Covid-19 vaccine doses between December 2021 and January 2022, he added.

At the same time, the Tanzanian government is pondering manufacturing vaccines for Covid-19 and other diseases due to their high demand. This will also cut costs of obtaining the vaccines, Prof Makubi added.

Tanzania has begun steps to build a local factory which will be used to produce Covid-19 vaccines, he said, adding that the country has expertise to manufacture such vaccines. - Mohamed Issa, The Citizen

Students get their temperature measured before class at Lycee Notre dame de Citeaux school in Kigali, Rwanda, on November 2, 2020. Photo SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP

 

Rwanda has imposed a partial lockdown to curb the surging cases of Covid-19.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s office on Tuesday orders the closure of schools and universities and prohibits church services, meetings and all social gatherings, effective July 1.

The 7pm-4am curfew was revised and the curfew will now run from 6pm to 4am.

Movements between Kigali and other districts have been banned except for essential services, while business have been asked to close by 5pm. Restaurants will only offer takeaway services.

Kigali City and districts of Burera, Kamonyi, Gicumbi, Rwamagana, Rubavu, Nyagatare, Rutsiro and Musanze that have recorded more cases of infections will follow stricter guidelines than the rest of the country. Most of the above districts neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda that are experiencing a spike in infections. 

The new guidelines come just a week after the cabinet meeting had tightened guidelines. 

“Given the surge in Covid-19 cases, and the emergence of new variants globally, the government has decided to take additional measures to control the further spread of the virus,” the statement read in part. 

Rwanda has been experiencing a severe surge in Covid-19 infections since early May where daily records and deaths increased over four times. 

The Ministry of Health said that more young people are getting infected and dying from the virus, and more patients are symptomatic. 

The spike is attributed to complacency in adhering to preventive measures by the public and the wave of infections in neighbouring Uganda and DR Congo. 

“We need the public to collaborate and adhere to these measures to see results. These measures were tightened to sustain what we have achieved so far. The previous measures have worked and we need to collaborate on this as well,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said. 

As of Monday, Rwanda recorded 757 new infections and its positivity rate stands at 11 percent. 

So far, Rwanda has vaccinated 391,739 people. It targets to vaccinate 60 percent of its 12 million population by July 2022. - Ange Iliza, The EastAfrican

 

 

Kenya has secured $130 million in funding from the World Bank to buy COVID-19 vaccines and help boost the country’s vaccination drive, the Bank announced on Tuesday.

The funding comes as the Kenyan government starts to administer the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccines to citizens, amid an upsurge of infections across 13 counties in the western region of the country.

As of Monday, the East African country had recorded 182, 883 COVID-19 infections and 3, 612 deaths.

World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Keith Hansen, said the “upfront financing for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines will enable the government to expand access to more Kenyans free of cost”.

It will enable the country to procure more vaccines via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative and COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing facility.

“This additional financing comes at a critical time when the Government of Kenya is making concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of COVID-19 infections and accelerate the deployment of vaccines to a wider population,” said Hansen. 

Part of the funds will go to boosting Kenya’s cold chain storage capacity, including establishing 25 county vaccine stores, strengthening the capacity of 36 sub-county stores, and equipping 1,177 health facilities with vaccine storage equipment. It will also be used for vaccine safety surveillance, training for health workers, and advocacy and communications activities to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

“With the increased support for a rapid COVID-19 response, the World Bank is offering the government a flexible approach to select a portfolio of vaccines that best suits local capacities, timings of delivery, and vaccine approvals,” said Jane Chuma, World Bank Senior Health Economist.

In April last year, Kenya received another World Bank loan for Covid-19 tests, isolation and quarantine centres and the purchase of personal protective gear for health workers. 

Vaccination Drive Intensifies As 13 Counties Declared COVID-19 Hotspots

So far, 1,293,004 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered with vaccination efforts being boosted by a donation of 360,000 doses from the Danish government early last week, according to the Ministry of Health.

A further consignment of 180,000 doses is expected in the coming weeks from COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing facility,  as well as a donation from the US.

Susan Mochache, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, acknowledged that the vaccine donation from Denmark came at a critical time when the country was only left with 5000 doses in total. 

Administration of the second dose comes in the wake of an upsurge of infections across 13 counties in the western region of the country. 

The counties of Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa-Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, and Vihiga have been declared hotspots by the Cabinet Secretary of Health, resulting in a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 7pm to 4am.

According to the Ministry of Health, the 13 counties account for 60% of the total caseload in the country and a positivity rate of 21%, which is way above the 9% national average over the last two weeks.

Even though movement in and out of these counties was not banned, Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe said it is “strongly discouraged.”

Funeral gatherings have been restricted to less than 50 people and burials are now supposed to take place within 72 hours following a death. Wedding gatherings are now restricted to 30 attendees. Employees have been urged to work from home and places of worship will remain closed for the next 30 days. These measures are meant to curb the spread of the virus in these counties and beyond. - Geoffrey Kamadi, Health Policy Watch

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