Tanzania’s president urges public not to ignore COVID-19

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Friday urged the public not to ignore a third wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This came after her predecessor, the late John Magufuli, alarmed the world with his sceptical approach to the pandemic.

Since Hassan took office after the death of Magufuli in March, the government has changed from downplaying the crisis to calling for social distancing and wearing of mask in the public.

Earlier in June, the World Health Organisation said there was currently no COVID-19 vaccination programme in Tanzania.

It said the country had applied to join COVAX Vaccine-sharing facility and officials there are working with health partners to develop a deployment plan.

The government has also asked the for a 571-million-dollar loan to help it tackle the challenges caused by the coronavirus.

Hassan in a speech to bishops in Dar es Salaam said“as you know the world is grappling with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We came from the first wave and Tanzania was affected.

“The second wave came and dropped and now there is the third wave. There are signs of the third wave in our country. We have COVID-19 patients who have been seen in this third wave.”

Before his death in March from long-term heart disease, Magufuli dismissed the threat of COVID-19, suggested Tanzania was free of the virus and called vaccines a western conspiracy.

Under his watch, the country of 58 million people stopped reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths in May 2020.

Hassan said that during a recent visit to a hospital in Dar es Salaam, she was told by a doctor about patients who were struggling with breathing issues.

She said “I asked him to say the truth – ‘is it COVID-19?’ He said, ‘yes, it is COVID-19. This pandemic is here and we should not ignore it.’’ (Reuters/NAN)

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