Tanzania's President John Magufuli has declared the country "coronavirus-free" thanks to prayers by citizens, reports BBC News. "The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God," Magufuli told worshippers in a church in the capital, Dodoma.
The report says the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern over the government's strategy on COVID-19. The government has stopped publishing data on the number of coronavirus cases in the country. On 29 April, the last day official data was released, there were 509 cases, with 21 deaths in Tanzania. However, Magufuli said last week that only four patients were receiving treatment in the largest city, Dar es Salaam.
BBC News reports that last month, Tanzania's government dismissed a US embassy warning that hospitals in Dar es Salaam were "overwhelmed" and that the chances of contracting the virus was "extremely high". Magufuli has repeatedly said the health crisis has been exaggerated and urged people to attend services in churches and mosques, saying that prayers "can vanquish" the virus.
The report says the Tanzanian president is among several African leaders who have received orders for a herbal tonic touted by the president of Madagascar as a cure for COVID-19. It is unclear if it has been given to patients in Tanzania. There is no scientific proof that the tonic works and the WHO has urged people not to use unproven medication.
According to BBC News, opposition politicians have criticised Magufuli in the past for promoting policies that could harm the health of Tanzanians. But the head of Tanzania's medical association, Elisha Osati, backed the government, saying that hospitals were operating as normal and that the majority of coronavirus inpatients were suffering from mild symptoms.
Magufuli has accused the country's health officials of exaggerating the coronavirus crisis. He has also ridiculed the strict measures neighbouring countries have imposed to fight the pandemic.Full BBC News report