The Stream

Will Magufuli’s COVID-free claim lead to deaths in Tanzania?

On Tuesday, February 23 at 19:30 GMT:
Backtracking on months of claims that the virus had been defeated, Tanzanian President John Magufuli acknowledged on Sunday that citizens should wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Magufuli’s statement came after the WHO urged the nation to take action against the virus and noted that Tanzanians travelling to other countries have tested positive for COVID-19.

The deaths of local government officials along with a sharp rise in pneumonia cases have fueled existing speculation that the country’s COVID-19 statistics are being kept under wraps.

Tanzania’s health institutions have not reported a single case of coronavirus since last April. According to a Reuters news agency tally, death tolls across the African continent are rising as several countries suffer a second wave of coronavirus, but there are no immediate plans to vaccinate Tanzanians. Instead, President John Magufuli has encouraged citizens to pray and rely on traditional remedies for disease prevention.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss how Tanzania’s handling of COVID could mean for its citizens and neighbouring countries’ efforts to stop the pandemic. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Frank Minja, @frankminja

Bishop Benson Bagonza
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

Ansbert Ngurumo, @ngurumo