"The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God," the Tanzanian president told worshippers in a church in the capital, Dodoma.
President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania has declared the country a coronavirus-free nation, crediting fasting and prayers and saying that God had helped them defeat the virus.
“I want to thank Tanzanians of all faiths. We have been praying and fasting for God to save us from the pandemic that has afflicted our country and the world. But God has answered us.
“I believe, and I’m certain that many Tanzanians believe, that the corona disease has been eliminated by God,” the president told worshippers in Dodoma during a church service on Sunday, June 7 as reported by BBC.
The president even applauded the priest and worshippers for not wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves from the virus, despite the instructions stressed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that people must wear masks as a preventive measure.
The WHO has criticized the Tanzanian government’s strategy on the pandemic, especially after it opted not to publish data on the number of coronavirus cases in the country.
According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of April 29, when the last official data was released, Tanzania had recorded 509 cases and 21 deaths. However, President Magufuli said last week that only four patients were receiving treatment in the largest city and commercial port, Dar es Salaam.
On Friday, June 5, in a meeting with thousands of Tanzanian teachers in Dodoma, Magufuli said the disease was a mere myth, that his citizens did not need to wear face masks in public places, and that whoever wanted to wear them should not push the government to make them mandatory.
Magufuli told citizens not to rely on donated PPE to fight the coronavirus as some may be used to transmit the virus.
“I want to urge you Tanzanians not to accept donations of masks, instead tell the donors to go and use them with their wives and children,” he said.
On Wednesday, May 13, the US embassy said hospitals in Dar es Salaam and other parts of Tanzania were overwhelmed with patients.
The US warned citizens that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Dar es Salaam was “extremely high.”
“Despite limited reports, all evidence points to the exponential growth of the epidemic in Dar and other locations in Tanzania.
“The embassy has strongly recommended that its personnel and their families remain at home except for essential activities,” read the statement by the US embassy.
The president raised concerns over “faulty” testing kits, which he claimed is the reason the country registered high numbers of coronavirus cases.
The head of state said that together with his officials, he took samples of papaya, engine oil, goat, and sheep, among other materials, to the laboratory to test for COVID-19.
He labeled the samples and after testing, said the engine oil came back negative, but the papaya and the goat tested positive.
“We saw it (the laboratory) was just testing positive and I, therefore, sent some officials to go check on the testing kits…I always say, not everything given to you is in good condition. It could be sabotage because this is a war,” he said.
The president recently suspended the head of Tanzania Health Laboratories, Nyambura Moremi, for allegedly presenting over-exaggerated case numbers and inaccurate results of tests in the country.
He also encouraged local herbalists to try and find drugs for COVID-19 and even recently embraced a traditional medicine from Madagascar as a cure for the virus.