The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has assured the international community and relevant stakeholders that the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar remain open for business and are ready to welcome travellers from around the world.
The clarification follows the reported outbreak of the Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea in February and Tanzania, an adjoining territory, in March 2023.
Marburg virus disease is a highly virulent disease that causes haemorrhagic fever with a fatality ratio of up to 88 percent.
The government, in a recent press release, said even as the ‘Green Season’ approaches, the Zanzibar archipelago had yet to record a single case of the Marburg virus first detected in the north-west Kagera region of mainland Tanzania in March.
It said the archipelago, since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, has seen an influx of visitors from the United States of America and the Middle East as well as those from its core European markets, a trend it expects would continue in the coming months and throughout summer.
“While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended travellers avoid contact with sick individuals and monitor any potential symptoms, it has not advised against travelling to Tanzania and Zanzibar,” the government said.
“Furthermore, it is important to understand that the Islands of Zanzibar are located in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, separated by at least 1,588kms of ocean and land between the islands and the Kagera region on the mainland. As such, it poses no risk of infection,” it said.
Simai M Said, Zanzibar’s Tourism Minister, said while the United Republic of Tanzania and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar were monitoring the situation closely, there was absolutely no cause for alarm.
“Given that Covid-19 is still fresh in our minds, we understand that people are cautious when learning of new infections. However, such fears are often unfounded, such is the case now. Tanzania is adhering to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and people have no reason to worry,” he said.
“Members of the international business community and those visiting our beautiful region and islands can rest assured that it is very much business as usual, and their health is in no way at risk from this virus. In the next few weeks Tanzania should be free from the virus.”
The Zanzibar government’s release quoted findings by the United Republic of Tanzania’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO as showing that as of 4th April 2023, the total number of remaining Marburg virus cases in the Kagera region was three, of which only two remained in isolation after one person was discharged on 5th April.
“This is further evidence that the spread of the virus has been halted. As we prepare to welcome our annual influx of visitors from the Northern Hemisphere and the Middle East, they can be safe in the knowledge that the virus is contained and presents no threat to them or the citizens of Zanzibar,” Mr. Said commented.
The government release said the United Republic of Tanzania has in the meantime deployed rapid response teams for the purposes of contact tracing and monitoring risk communication activities, adding that the measures were proving highly successful with limiting the spread of the virus in the Kagera region.
It said Zanzibar was set for a bumper tourist season, having already welcomed 65,430 international visitors in February, an increase of 39.2 percent on the 46,995 visitors recorded in February 2022.