WHO Mounts Pressure on Magufuli to Disclose on COVID-19 Situation

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Under pressure: WHO tasks President Magufuli to disclose on COVID-19 situation; Courtesy Photo

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has asked authorities in Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data. I also call on

In a statement, the WHO boss told Tanzania to implement the known public health measures to breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination promising to support the country’s health system.

Authorities in Tanzania have been defiant against international health guidelines in the prevention of COVID-19 with president John Magufuli denying the existence of the disease in the country until a few days ago when reality kicked in with reports confirming illnesses and deaths.

“COVID-19 is a serious disease that can cause severe illness and even death. National authorities everywhere must do all they can to protect people and save lives and WHO stands ready to support them in the response against this deadly virus,” Dr Tedros said in a statement on the situation in Tanzania.

President John Magufuli, ignored all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) recommended by the WHO, including use of masks, and believes COVID-19 can be fought using natural remedies and prayers. He at one time declared Tanzania COVID-19 free.

The WHO chief added that, “This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.”

Dr Tedros’ statement followed the death in the past week of Tanzania’s Zanzibar First Vice-President Seif Sharif Hamad, reportedly after being admitted with COVID-19.

Criticism of Tanzania’s position has risen, as over 3.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been confirmed on the African continent already – with more than 3.3 million recoveries and 100,000 deaths. There are no figures from Tanzania that stopped sharing data on the same last yearr.

FULL STATEMENT FROM WHO

We extend our condolences to our Tanzanian sisters and brothers on the recent passing of a senior Tanzanian leader as well as the government’s Chief Secretary.

In late January, I joined Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Director for the African Region, in urging Tanzania to scale public health measures against COVID-19 and to prepare for vaccination. I also encouraged the sharing of data in light of reports of COVID-19 cases among travelers.

Since then I have spoken with several authorities in Tanzania but WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic.

This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.

A number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for COVID-19. This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond.

COVID-19 is a serious disease that can cause severe illness and even death. National authorities everywhere must do all they can to protect people and save lives and WHO stands ready to support them in the response against this deadly virus

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