Now, the country’s new president Samia Suluhu Hassan—inaugurated in March after Magufuli died due to what many believe were complications from COVID-19—has distanced herself from her predecessor’s views on the pandemic and set up a virus task force. Healthcare workers hope that the country will also begin sharing case data and procure vaccines for Tanzania’s 58 million people through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.
“Here ignorance is bliss. I’ve met a lot of foreigners who shouldn't be here, like doctors.”
After six months in Paje, Hodgkinson signed a lease on a building in Stone Town, which has a roof terrace and three apartments, which she shares with friends. Zanzibar is on the “brink of really good things,” she said, as Tanzanian residency comes with ownership of land or business. “Many people were funneled here for lack of other options, and now they either plan to return or have chosen not to leave,” Hodgkinson added.
“People came here to release; I have had the time of my life.”
“Tanzania’s unorthodox approach certainly made it famous, it was like free advertising,” said Manda. “But without vaccinations in Tanzania, many potential visitors may shy away.”Even as the new government has begun instituting safety measures, Njama, the tour operator, believes it will take time to change both local and foreign attitudes. And as Zanzibar has seen relatively few COVID deaths, the economic hit is a matter of priority for him and his colleagues.“We face many other challenges here so our full attention cannot be on COVID,” Njama said. Reporting for this article was supported by a grant from The Pulitzer Center.
“Of course COVID might be here, but the anxiety is not here.”