Tanzanian President Says Country Can Ill Afford a Virus Lockdown

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(Bloomberg) --

Tanzania cannot afford to impose movement restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic despite a sharp increase in infections over the past few weeks, President John Magufuli said.

Confirmed cases had jumped to 284 with 10 deaths by Wednesday, from 20 cases and one death at the start of the month. Close to three-quarters of the cases are in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

“There are calls to lock down Dar es Salaam -- we will never do that. This is our main port city and accounts for around 80% of government revenue,” Magufuli said in a televised address to defense and security chiefs on Wednesday.

Magufuli urged international financial institutions, particularly the World Bank, “to forgive debt owed by African countries instead of giving them new loans to fight the coronavirus.”

Tanzanian gross domestic product growth will slow to about 2% this year due to the pandemic, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. The East African state is targeting 7% expansion.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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