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Kenya denies entry to 23 COVID-19 positive Tanzanian drivers

Kenya Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman addressing the press

Kenya Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman addressing the press

Kenya today Wednesday denied entry to 23 Tanzanian drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Namanga border point. This comes after Zambia also locked its borders to travellers from Tanzania. 

Kenya's Health ministry said a Ugandan and a Rwandan driver also tested positive for coronavirus disease at Namanga. It was not immediately clear if the positive Ugandan and Rwandan drivers were also repatriated back to their respective countries.

Kenya and Tanzania have not been at the best of diplomatic relationships for quite some time with each country previously denying entry of goods from the other. Of the 1,516 samples tested in Kenya on Wednesday, 22 new infections were confirmed taking the national tally to 737.

Kenya also registered 22 new recoveries and 4 new deaths. To date, Kenya has recorded 40 coronavirus-related deaths. Kenya announced that it had acquired mobile laboratories to be stationed at border entries to test cross-border drivers. 

During this week's virtual meeting by the East African heads of state to formulate a regional response to the coronavirus pandemic, Tanzanian and Burundian leaders were conspicuously absent.

Both countries have taken a more relaxed approach to the pandemic, ignoring World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines to implement total lockdowns. Public transport, markets, places of worship still operate normally just like before the coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged the globe. Of Uganda's 122 coronavirus cases, over 66 are from cross-border truck drivers. 

Burundi has declared three WHO officials including the WHO representative Dr Walter Kazadi and three experts; Prof Daniel Tarzy, Dr Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa & Dr Jean Pierre Mulunda persona non-grata and ordered them to leave the country by May 15, 2020. The WHO has been critical of both Burundi and Tanzania's COVID-19 responses.

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli accused the WHO of supplying fake testing kits to Africa that he claimed ended up tested as positive samples from goats, sheep, pawpaw and jackfruit. WHO denied Magufuli's allegations and warned of an explosion in East Africa's biggest country. 

The US Embassy in Tanzania today warned that Tanzania last released COVID-19 data on April 29 and warned that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Dar es Salaam is extremely high.

The embassy also said, "despite limited official reports, all evidence points to exponential growth of the pandemic in Dar es Salaam and other locations in Tanzania." Adding that many hospitals in Dar es Salaam have been overwhelmed. 

Tanzania's confirmed cases stand at 509 while Burundi's cases stand at 15. 

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