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Tanzania Hit By Heavy Travel Advisory From US Over COVID-19

CAPTION: Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli

President John Pombe Magufuli might have emerged the winner in the recent highly contested Tanzanian national polls but from latest reports, it looks like the man equally loved as a reformist and loathed as a hardline dictator by the masses has fallen latest victim to party-poopers; the United States, who have this week issued a very high travel advisory against the East African Nation over their COVID-19 situation.

In the red notice published on the official US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, all American citizens have been asked to avoid ALL TRAVEL to Tanzania, with a warning that doing so could increase one’s chance of contracting and spreading the Coronavirus.

On the page, Tanzania’s COVID-19 level is ranked at 4, which is the highest, up from level 3 just days ago.

CAPTION: A screengrab from the official US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website indicating that Tanzania has been red-zoned

What does a red travel advisory from the United States mean?

As the world slowly began to adapt to life under COVID-19, some countries began to open up for international travel.

To help their citizens determine the level of precaution they should take when travelling outside the country, the US set up a new DOS Travel Advisory system where every country is assigned a colour-coded risk rating of one to four, defined as follows…

Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.

Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travellers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.

Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travellers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.

Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to the greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.

Further, citizens are advised that if they are in a Level 4 country, they should try to leave as soon they can.

And if a citizen plans on travelling to a country that is a Level 4 threat, they are required to be granted special clearance or permission.

What does this mean for Magufili and Tanzania?

When the pandemic first broke out in early 2020, one of the main points of discussion around the various responses to COVID-19 was governance.

Different countries reacted to the pandemic in different ways, and these differences were informed by the varying styles of leadership and governance around the globe.

Countries with open and transparent governing styles took a more hands-on approach by engaging diverse stakeholders.

In neighbouring Tanzania, Magufuli took the opposite view.

He framed COVID-19 as a war and not a health calamity requiring scientific consultation.

As a result, the handling of the pandemic was at the whim of the president.

Ever since Magufuli expressed his doubts on the professionalism of the national laboratory, no more updates on COVID-19 were ever made.

Weeks later, unlike other countries which were still suffering from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, Magufuli declared Tanzania free from the pandemic.

The announcement paid off handsomely, and as a result, tourists flocked into the country, to a relief of the tourist sector that was already in suffering.

International airlines including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss Air and Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines which had halted flights in mid-March, all began flying to and from Tanzania.

With a travel advisory like this, numbers of tourists visiting from the United States will certainly significantly drop, and even worse, other foreign nations might be prompted into issuing their own advisories against Tanzania.

This would leave Maguful with a huge job to lure back tourists, who are a key source of foreign exchange, but who will now be difficult to convince that Tanzania is free of Covid.

The development also comes at a time Tanzanian opposition leaders led by Tundu Lissu have called on the international community to impose sanctions against the regime of President John Magufuli.

CAPTION: Former Tanzania presidential candidate Tundu Lissu

Lissu, who fled the country and is currently exiled in Belgium, said the international community needed to take action on Magufuli, top leaders in his government as well as the people that financed his administration to allegedly rig the election.

After Magufuli’s landslide victory, several nations, including the United States, noted credible allegations that call the vote’s results and the country’s democratic ideals into question.

Could this be a first attempt by the West to flex their muscles and torpedo Magufuli’s little economy to smithereens?

If so, one can only wonder what next the bureaucrats could have in store for him, especially now that the pro-NGO Biden administration (a darling of activists) is poised to take over the presidency.

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