Tanzania‘s president, John Magufuli, has justified his country’s laissez-faire approach to fighting the spread of the coronavirus, declaring that “God will help us”, at a church service.
Magufuli was speaking to a congregation over the weekend when he promised he would open schools and universities if “the trend I am seeing continues in the coming week”.
He contrasted the way in which he has led Tanzania during the pandemic with what other East African countries have done.
“There is not going to be any such thing as lockdown in Tanzania, God will help us. We need to work hard, once the other East Africans are done with their lockdown, they will come to us, and we shall still help them with food, we will not against discriminate them,” Magufuli added.
The president said hospitals were recording recoveries and fewer cases and that should give some hope to the people.
But the picture painted by the president has been challenged by the United States embassy in the country. Last week the embassy’s health alert note suggested that the infection rate in the country is worse than the Tanzanian government would admit.
The embassy alert said “[D]espite limited official reports, all evidence points to exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar and other locations in Tanzania.” There was, however, no evidence to back up the claim.
Magufuli, who has been criticized on the continent and outside, earlier this month expressed skepticism about the country’s numbers of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, alleging that “probably, the technicians are also bought to mislead.”
Magufuli addressed his country on the progress being made by the east African nation against the pandemic and was quite adamant that the number the country’s national laboratory had churned out was mistaken.
He added that he was privy to results from tests he had secretly ordered to be carried on fruits and animals. Magufuli alleged that tests on a papaya fruit, a quail and a goat came back positive.
The country’s head of the national laboratory was suspended for overseeing what the president had described as a “dirty game” that artificially spiked numbers.
According to the WHO, Tanzania currently has 509 cases with 183 recoveries and 21 deaths.