Defiant Magufuli feared sick with COVID-19, flown to Kenya for treatment

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

Kenya’s Daily Nation has today reported that an African leader is admitted at a Nairobi hospital, reportedly struggling to recover from COVID-19.

The newspaper however does not identify the leader, who is said to be on a ventilator, but goes ahead to give details about the defiant attitude Tanzania has taken in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper also mentions that the leader was last seen in public, launching mega-projects two weeks ago.

The only East African leader who has not been seen in public in the past two weeks is Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli ‘The bulldozer’.

Tanzania’s exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu retweeted the Daily Nation story, saying he believed it was Magufuli that had been hospitalized.

“It’s a sad comment on his stewardship of our country that it’s come to this: that he himself got COVID-19 and flown out to Kenya in order to prove that prayers, steam inhalations and other unproven herbal concoctions he’s championed are no protection against coronavirus,” Tundu Lissu said.

Magufuli has 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. As early as May last year, he declared Tanzania COVID-19 free.

Late last month, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reached out to COVID-19 skeptic Magufuli, promising to support the country’s health system.

“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.

There was a change thereafter, with Magufuli warning citizens to be careful, and the finance Minister Philip Mpango was shown on TV ill, but also urging Tanzanians to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) to prevent COVID-19.

“A number of Tanzanians traveling to neighboring 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,” warned Dr Tedros

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.”

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