Magufuli’s u-turn: Only use masks made in Tanzania

Tanzania's President John Magufuli addresses his supporters during his Presidential campaign rally at the Tanganyika Parkers Grounds in Kawe in Dar es Salaam. [Reuters]

Tanzania’s populist President John Pombe Magufuli has taken a different stand hinting at the presence of Covid-19 in the East African country nine months after he declared it Covid-19 free.

Speaking in a Church service in Dar es salaam on Sunday, February 21, Magufuli told the congregation that the government is not against the use of masks and that citizens should take personal responsibility to protect themselves against the virus.

“Tanzanians should take caution and use masks made in the country including those of the country’s medical board because there is doubt about the efficacy of masks from other countries,” Said President Magufuli.

The second-term president has also directed Tanzanians from all religious denominations to continue praying so that “God can rid the world of the virus”.

“Let us continue putting our faith in God because other methods such as wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns are not effective. Countries implementing them are still recording deaths in thousands,” said Magufuli.

Magufuli also took time to calm the country while he rubbished claims that the virus is fatal and has additional health risks. The president compared the pandemic to the temptations Jesus went through and confidently stated that it will come to pass.

Magufuli’s statements come on the same day The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the Covid-19 situation in the East African country “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,” Tedros said in a statement posted on WHO’s website on Sunday.

The global health body has further revealed reports showing that a number of Tanzanians who had travelled out of the country had tested positive for Covid-19 even as the government ignores health protocols and leans more to spiritual intervention in fighting the virus.