Doctors in Tanzania have denied being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic after a recent warning by the US embassy about the risk of “exponential growth” in cases in the country.
The embassy said hospitals in the main city, Dar es Salaam, were “overwhelmed” and that the chance of contracting the virus was “extremely high” – but did not give any evidence to back up its claims.
But the head of Tanzania’s medical association Elisha Osati has told the BBC that hospitals are operating as normal and that the majority of coronavirus inpatients are suffering from mild symptoms.
“We had few patients who were serious. Many of them end up using only oxygen but not ventilators. And these are patients who had other conditions,” he said.
The government has faced accusations of covering up the scale of the outbreak. It is now a month since the government released any data on Covid-19 deaths or infections.
Dr Osati said Tanzania’s low numbers could be because of its young population and the concentration of elderly people in rural areas away from potential coronavirus hot-spots.
He said Tanzania’s mortality rate has not changed much since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in the country.
This is the first time a government health official has come forward to talk about the impact of coronavirus in Tanzania.