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Tanzania still in denial about Covid-19 existence despite surge in cases

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An extremely worrying trend is emerging in Tanzania concerning the existence of Covid-19 despite persistent government denials.

A top aide to President John Pombe Magufuli died yesterday at a local hospital but the government did not reveal the cause of his death.

Chief Secretary John Kijazi died while receiving treatment at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital, according to a statement released by the president’s office.

On Thursday hundreds of mourners from Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar gathered to bid farewell to the deceased vice-president Seif Sharif Hamad who died from Covid-19.

He is the most prominent Tanzanian leader to have openly declared that he had contracted Covid-19.

Namibia’s third secretary to Tanzania Selina Tjihero also died on Tuesday following a short illness. Sources privy to the matter said she had contracted COVID-19.

Tanzania’s government lead by President Magufuli has continued to deny the existence of Coronavirus in the entire country, though doctors have frequently reported several cases of patients with breathing problems.

The government has also continued to censor journalists when reporting about Coronavirus. Some have been hounded according to Amnesty international. This has also been the case to foreign journalists who have reported cases of Covid-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest travel warning on Tanzania says the country’s level of COVID-19 is “very high.” It gave no details but urged against all travel to the East African nation.

Tanzania’s government has been widely criticized for its approach to the pandemic. It has not updated its number of coronavirus infections — 509 — since April.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli had warned the country’s health ministry against rushing into embracing the Covid-19 vaccines promoted by foreign companies and countries.

Magufuli cast doubt on the global urge to develop the Covid-19 vaccine claiming that little has been done to help cure other diseases like tuberculosis, HIV-Aids, malaria among other infections.

“You should stand firm. Vaccinations are dangerous. If the white man was able to come up with vaccinations, he should have found a vaccination for Aids by now; he would have found a vaccination of tuberculosis by now; he would have found a vaccination for malaria by now; he would have found a vaccination for cancer by now,” he said.

“The Health ministry must know that not every vaccination is meaningful to our nation. Tanzanians must be mindful so that we are not used for trials of some doubtful vaccinations which can have serious repercussions on our health,” he added.

The World Health Organization’s Africa chief has continued to urge Tanzania to share its data on infections, while the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said that “if we do not fight this as a collective on the continent, we will be doomed.”