Tanzania to start releasing COVID-19 updates, president asks Clerics to pray for her

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Tanzania's president Samia Suluhu Hassan; Courtesy Photo

President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Sunday, April 18, 2021 said Tanzania will soon start releasing frequent updates on the COVID-19 situation amid the evolving coronavirus threat.

President Hassan made the statement in Dodoma during a national conference organized by religious leaders to remember ex-President John Magufuli and pray for the new leaders including herself and her Zanzibar counterpart, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi.

Speaking during the event, president Samia said the disease has been evolving into different phases with the virus changing its variant and asked clerics to take the prevention agenda to worshipers, and pray for Tanzania. She said, though the magnitude of the disease isn’t that huge it is inappropriate to completely dismiss its presence in the country.

Samia also announced that she has formed a committee of experts who will advise her on the status of Covid-19 in the country and the necessary steps to take.

“As I promised during the swearing in of the Permanent Secretaries and their deputies, I have already formed a committee. I am expecting to meet its members and representatives of the ministry of Health and those from the ministry of Finance and Planning in the near future in order to establish the way forward,” president Samia said.

“Let me promise that I will be frequently provide new updates on the disease from the committee in order to save the country from losing significant manpower and protect those in danger of contracting the disease,” she said.

She called on religious leaders to preach on the disease to worshippers in order for them to take precaution measures as advised by health experts including hand washing with soap and running water, using sanitizers, maintaining social distancing and use of face masks.

Little is known in Tanzania on the number of positive cases due to the government’s earlier stun position on the virus.

Former Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli had declared the East African country as Covid-free and did not place any curfew or confinement to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

With a new president in office, major changes could be in the offing to Tanzania’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Her new policy however is not void of doubt.

Opposition leader Tundu Lissu, in exile in Belgium, last week cautioned Tanzanians not applaud Hassan’s announcements just yet.

“This will be no different from the Magufuli way of doing things. It’s Magufulism without Magufuli!” Lissu said in Twitter post.

“It will not succeed. What is needed is strong systems of accountability of the government and its institutions. What is needed is more democracy, more justice, more accountability. What is needed is a New Constitution!”

Lissu is in Belgium for a second time due to death threats following his rejection of the results of elections in October and calling for peaceful demonstrations. Magufuli won the election with 85% of the vote but there were widespread accusations of rigging, ballot stuffing and that opposition party agents were denied access to the voting and counting centers.

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