Tanzania Sees Surge in Covid-19 Cases after President Declares Days of Prayer

  • Tanzania now has 170 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
  • President Magufuli has said that the virus is satanic.
  • Critics have asked Tanzanians to acknowledge scientific facts.

Last Sunday, Tanzanian President John Magufuli declared three days of national prayer to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He ordered that churches remain open from April 17 to 19 to facilitate the prayer sessions. The move was criticized by the country’s opposition leaders and a section of medical practitioners.

John Joseph Pombe Magufuli is a Tanzanian politician and the President of Tanzania, in office since 2015. He is also the chairman of the Southern African Development Community. Running as the candidate of the ruling party in Tanzania (CCM), he won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015.

Many saw his decision as ill-informed and likely to accelerate the spread of the virus. The epidemic has so far claimed 4 lives in the East African nation. There were 94 reported infections at the time of his declaration. Infection cases jumped by over 40 in the next 24 hours. The country now has 170 confirmed infections. Most of them are concentrated in the nation’s capital, Dar es Salaam. Infections have also been reported in Mwanza City and northern Kilimanjaro.

The president recently told a congregation of faithful at a church that the coronavirus cannot survive in the church because it is satanic. His outlook has been faulted by opposition leader Zitto Kabwe. Kabwe has asked the masses to acknowledge Covid-19 facts backed by science.

While other countries in the East African region have closed their borders to contain the spared of coronavirus, Tanzania’s borders have remained open. Kenya and Uganda have already closed their borders to all traffic except cargo vehicles. They have additionally shut down their airports.

Tanzania has banned all non-religious social gatherings and shut down schools to curb the spread of the virus. The government also cancelled the scheduled April 26 national holiday ceremony. The day marks the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which led to the formation of Tanzania.

No Lockdown Measures

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, comprised of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. On 10 December 1963, Zanzibar became an independent country, then merged with Tanganyika, in April 1964, forming Tanzania.

Tanzania lacks curfew or lockdown measures. According to the country’s deputy health minister, Faustine Ndugulile, there are few options right now in terms of implementing a curfew. Most people live from hand to mouth and depend on a daily wage to make a living. The extreme poverty makes a lockdown less viable.

According to the minister, hunger-related deaths are bound to occur. “When you look at the dynamics, most Tanzanians live from hand to mouth – they have to leave their households in order to survive. So when you go for a total lockdown it means some will instead die of hunger.”

The number of infections in Tanzania is likely to be much higher than those officially reported. This is because only people who have symptoms are tested.

The UK Bolstering Efforts

The United Kingdom is Tanzania’s biggest Covid-19 prevention sponsor. According to a recent statement made by British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Sarah Cooke, the UK is supporting programs involved in providing sustainable income, health and education during these difficult times.

“We know this will be a long fight and understand the importance of protecting jobs and livelihoods. So now, more than ever, we must work together to help Tanzania trade,” she said.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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