Virus fears in Tanzania parliament after MP diagnosed

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By BBC Africa

A Tanzanian member of parliament has tested positive for coronavirus, triggering calls for a suspension of on-going House sessions.

Without naming the politician, Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson said the MP had travelled to the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, the country's epicentre of infections.

She believes that is where the MP contracted the virus.

Parliament's sessions started three weeks ago, albeit with fewer MPs in the chamber, shorter hours of discussions and some debates held over video conferencing facilities.

Speaker Job Ndugai has defended reconvening amid the epidemic, arguing that the country’s important operations must continue.

Mr Ndugai, together with President John Magufuli, have disapproved of stricter measures such as a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in the country.

But some politicians want parliament to be suspended to allow for disinfection of the chamber and testing of all MPs to identify and quarantine those who may be infected.

“There shall be no two set of laws - for MPs and for the people. All MPs should be isolated, tested and contact-traced. Right from the beginning we advised that the parliament sessions should not be held. It’s dangerous,” said Zitto Kabwe, an opposition MP and leader of the ACT-Wazalendo party.

Another opposition MP, Upendo Peneza, previously suggested a lockdown for Dar es Salaam city to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“Because Dar es Salaam has the largest number of cases, people from there shouldn’t be allowed to go to other places so as to stop the spread of the infection to other regions. Only movement of basic goods and services should be allowed,” said Ms Peneza said in parliament.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Tanzania now stands at 254 and 10 deaths, with the virus spreading into close to half of regions of the country.

 

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