Tanzania’s president admits country has Covid-19 problem

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
President John Magufuli has acknowledged Covid-19 in Tanzania.
President John Magufuli has acknowledged Covid-19 in Tanzania.
Ericky Boniphace, AFP
  • Tanzanian President John Magufuli has made a U-turn on coronavirus.
  • He now acknowledges that the country is battling the illness.
  • He previously said the disease was beaten by prayers.


The president of Tanzania has urged its citizens to take preventive measures against the coronavirus after downplaying the disease for months and claiming it had been defeated by prayers.

LIVE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

Speaking during a Sunday church mass in the capital Dodoma, President John Magufuli urged citizens of the East African country to take precautions and wear face masks - but only locally made ones.

Over the course of the pandemic, Magufuli has expressed wariness about foreign-made goods, including Covid vaccines.

READ | WHO chief calls on Tanzania to combat Covid

A few hours later, the health ministry issued a statement also calling on people to wear face masks and wash their hands to prevent Covid-19 infections, according to local media.

The president's comments came a day after the World Health Organisation’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged Tanzania to take "robust action" to tackle the outbreak in the country as "the situation remains very concerning."

Death of one of high-profile politician

The call for action came after a number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement issued by the WHO.

Others recently expressing concern include the US and the local Catholic church.

The country of 60 million people mourned the death of one of its highest-profile politicians, the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, whose infection with Covid had been announced by his political party.

Magufuli’s chief secretary also died in recent days, though the cause was not revealed.

Magufuli, speaking at the chief secretary's funeral in a nationally televised broadcast on Friday, had urged the nation to participate in three days of prayer for unspecified "respiratory" illnesses that had become a challenge to the country.

Tanzania has not updated its number of coronavirus infections since April as the president has insisted Covid-19 had been defeated.

Tanzania's official number of coronavirus infections remains at just 509, but residents report many people have become ill with breathing difficulties and hospitals have seen a rise in patients diagnosed with "pneumonia".

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
37% - 2417 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 1742 votes
No, I don't think they need it
37% - 2419 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.09
(-0.16)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(-0.23)
ZAR/EUR
18.22
(-0.19)
ZAR/AUD
11.62
(-0.25)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.54)
Gold
1734.50
(+0.02)
Silver
26.67
(+0.05)
Platinum
1186.51
(+0.42)
Brent Crude
64.40
(-2.56)
Palladium
2310.00
(+0.58)
All Share
66138.05
(-1.99)
Top 40
60754.30
(-2.11)
Financial 15
12200.05
(-1.09)
Industrial 25
86144.34
(-0.81)
Resource 10
67459.85
(-4.14)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo