What you need to know:
- Other than the WHO’s public pressure, Catholic bishops in Tanzania, the US Embassy there and the Tanganyika Law Society have been pressing Mr Magufuli to recognise the crisis, even as the country takes its own preventive measures.
Tanzania has finally asked its citizens to adhere to Covid-19 rules, days after the country recorded high-profile deaths that prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to pile pressure for more decisive action against the pandemic.
On Sunday, Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children urged the public to adhere to all precautions including wearing face masks.
The directive came hours after the WHO released a statement urging the East African country to start reporting coronavirus cases and sharing its data.
In a statement on Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and sharing data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.”
Among the high profile Tanzanian government officials who have succumbed to the virus are Vice-president of the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad. He died on Wednesday after his party openly declared that he had contracted Covid-19.
The head of the civil service, John Kijazi, also died on Wednesday but the cause of death was not given.
God and science
On Sunday, the head of the public relations unit of Tanzania’s Health ministry, Gerard Chami, stressed the need for precautionary measures against non-communicable diseases as the situation there is monitored.
Besides wearing masks, he advised citizens to take measures including hand washing, using sanitisers, exercising and protecting people at higher risk such as the elderly and those with obesity and chronic illnesses.
“Our message to Tanzanians and all stakeholders of this nation is to continue putting God first, follow the advice of health professionals and take appropriate precautions in protecting themselves against diseases,” read Mr Chami’s statement.
He added that the people should ensure proper nutrition, use natural remedies prescribed by the Council of Traditional Healers and visit health facilities as soon as they have symptoms of illness, to increase chances of recovery.
President John Magufuli has also urged Tanzanians to continue taking precautions against the coronavirus as directed by health experts. He addressed the matter during the Holy Mass on the first Sunday of Lent.
Other than the WHO’s public pressure, Catholic bishops in Tanzania, the US Embassy there and the Tanganyika Law Society have been pressing Mr Magufuli to recognise the crisis, even as the country takes its own preventive measures.
But President Magufuli, while recognising the presence of the virus in the country, has refused to impose a lockdown.
The government has not updated its number of cases since April last year, making it difficult to know the extent of the spread of the virus.
In his statement, Dr Tedros said Tanzanians travelling outside the country have tested positive for the coronavirus.
"This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action, both to safeguard its own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond," he said.