DAR ES SALAAM, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan maintained on Sunday that there was no reported case of COVID-19 in the east African nation.
"There is no outbreak of the virus in Tanzania, at least until now," she told a public rally in Simiyu region to mark the International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
In an address televised live by state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, Hassan urged Tanzanians to continue taking precautionary measures against the deadly virus as prescribed by health authorities.
"You should discourage shaking hands. You should always wash your hands using soap," said the VP, urging people to ignore social media ill-intentioned reports about the outbreak of the disease.
On Saturday, the Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu dismissed social media reports indicating an outbreak of COVID-19 in Tanzania saying the reports were "fake news".
"Tanzanians should ignore the reports as the country has not yet recorded any outbreak of the virus," Mwalimu told Xinhua when reached by phone.
However, Mwalimu urged Tanzanians to continue taking precautionary measures saying the country was on high alert on preparedness as the virus was spreading very fast in countries across the world.
"We are still on preparedness stage to control an outbreak of the virus. We have not yet reached the response stage," she said.
On Feb. 27, Mwalimu said the country has reinforced preparedness and response measures against the COVID-19 outbreak.
The minister said measures taken by the government of Tanzania to control the outbreak of the virus included screening people in ports, airports and borders.
The ministry has also prepared medicines, medical facilities and sanitizers in case they are needed for treatment and the government has strengthened examination capacities in labs and results can be produced within four to six hours, she said.
The Tanzanian government will continue to work closely with various stakeholders in the health sector, including the WHO, she added.