George Russell in New York
The World Health Organization has advocated Tanzania to take more measures to control the coronavirus pandemic as more than nine months have passed since the East African nation provided any update on cases.
Tanzania’s president John Magafuli last year declared the country ‘coronavirus free’, but doctors and health officials are skeptical.
The Zanzibar Regional Government has announced that its First Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad died as a result of Covid-19 on February 17.
One of Magafuli’s closest advisers, John Kijazi, officially died of a heart attack the next day, but at his funeral Magafuli led prayers to defeat unnamed ‘respiratory ailments’ that plague the country. “Maybe we have wronged God somewhere. Let’s all repent, ”he told the mourners.
Tanzania has reported 509 cases with 21 deaths among its 58 million people, but has not released any data as of May 2020. Neighboring Kenya, with a population of about 52.6 million, has identified more than 104,000 cases, with 1,817 dead.
Shoppers use a hand-washing station when they enter a market in Dodoma, Tanzania
“This situation remains of great concern,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Sunday. “I renew my call to Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and sharing data.”
He said the government needed to raise public awareness that the pandemic is continuing around the world.
“I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work to break the chains of transmission and to prepare for vaccination,” said Tedros.
The WHO head said several Tanzanians traveling to neighboring countries and beyond have tested positive for Covid-19.
“This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust measures to protect their own people as well as protect the population in these countries and beyond,” he said.