Man clasped hands patterned with the Tanzania flag.

For months Tanzania's government insisted the country was free from Covid-19. The late President John Magufuli, who succumbed to 'chronic atrial fibrillation', according to President Samia Suluhu Hassan, repeatedly downplayed the pandemic. The country was, however, recording infections and deaths as indicated in the timeline below:

March 16, 2020: Tanzania announces ­ first case of Covid-19 – a 46-year-old man who had come back home from Belgium.

March 17, 2020: Schools are shut. Later, sports events were stopped, border crossings halted, numbers in restaurants and bars restricted, and public transport operators ordered to carry fewer passengers. Churches and offices, however, remained open.

March 22, 2020: President John Magufuli declares that Covid-19 is the “devil” and cannot survive in the “body of Christ” March 31, 2020: First death is recorded; the ­first recovery was announced on March 26.

May 4, 2020: Magufuli declares that a pawpaw, goat, and quail had tested positive for Covid-19.

April 29, 2020: Tanzania releases Covid-19 numbers, putting total cases at 509 and deaths at 21.

June 8, 2020: Magufuli declares Tanzania Covid-19 free.

The late President John Pombe Magufuli at a past event.

January 2021: Denmark announces that two of its citizens who had visited Tanzania tested positive for the South African variant of Covid-19.

February 19, 2021: Magufuli calls the latest spate of deaths in the country a possible test from God, asks citizens not to panic, and calls for a three-day fast.

February 20, 2021: WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus sends out a statement asking Tanzanian authorities to share information on public health measures and preparations for vaccination

February 21, 2021: Magufuli says the government has not forbidden the wearing of masks, and those who want to can; he, however, warned against using imported masks and instead asked citizens to make their own. He admitted some of his aides and family members had contracted Covid-19

February 22, 2021: Public transport authority says passengers would not be allowed to board without wearing a mask.

February 22, 2021: Finance Minister Philip Mpango speaks to reporters while coughing and gasping for breath to dispel rumors he had contracted Covid-19 after a spate of high-pro­ le deaths linked to pneumonia and an unspeci­fied respiratory illness.

Finance Minister Philip Mpango. [Courtesy]

February 25, 2021: Kenya denies its athletes clearance to participate in the Kilimanjaro Marathon over virus fears.

March 5, 2021: Tanzania installs steam booths in main referral hospitals where patients pay about Sh200 per use.

March 9, 2021: Speculation rises over Magufuli’s whereabouts amid media reports he has been admitted to hospital in Nairobi.