Since the beginning of the pandemic, there were a few citizens, and even political officials, who had minimized the danger of the coronavirus, even doubting its existence. Among them were some presidents of great powers such as Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.
More than a year after the arrival of SARS-CoV-2, there are still those who have their doubts. It is the case of Tanzania, in East Africa, whose leaders insist on saying that the country is “COVID-free”. In recent days, the death of a Tanzanian citizen, with symptoms of COVID, has put the debate on the treatment of the country with the current situation.
In the month of May, they published the latest official data: in total, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), has 509 confirmed cases and 21 deaths. Since May 8, no sign of new data. Like the family of the deceased, many others remain silent for fear of reprisals from the Government, as indicated BBC. Faced with such a situation, The United Kingdom has prohibited the entry of travelers from this country, while the United States recommends not traveling to Tanzania.
Denial of the coronavirus and vaccines
Last July, the President of the country, John Magufuli, gave up the virus in the national territory. Since then, he and other officials have scoffed at the use of masks, have questioned the effectiveness of screening tests and they have questioned the measures imposed by other countries.
But denialism doesn’t stop there and it also attacks vaccines, which it considers very dangerous. To date, there is no plan for vaccination in the country. “They must stand firm. Vaccines are dangerous. If the white man were able to create vaccines he must have found one for AIDS, for tuberculosis, for malaria, for cancer “, he assured a few days ago in the local newspaper The Citizen. On some other occasion has he expressed his refusal to let his countrymen be “guinea pigs”.
Natural shake instead of shots
The director of the OMS for Africa, the doctor Matshidiso Moeti, encouraged the local government to start the vaccination campaign, although the advice seems not to have penetrated. Quite the contrary: the Minister of Health, Dorothy Gwajima, expresses herself in the same line as the president. According to Gwajima, they have their “own procedure on how to receive medications, and we do it after being satisfied with the product. ”
Instead of vaccines, the African country is betting on a natural smoothie based on ginger, onions, lemons and pepper, with which they assure, without providing evidence, that it prevents contagion. “We must improve our personal hygiene, wash our hands with soap and running water, use handkerchiefs, herbal steam, exercising, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, and natural remedies our nation is endowed with“says Gwajima. But not because of the presence of the virus in the country, but because it is” devastating “neighboring countries.
Discordant voices in the country
For months, a directive issued by Magufuli allows only the Dr. Gwajima, three senior officials and the president himself give information about COVID. However, the first signs of skepticism about the situation are beginning to emerge. “” The problem here is that the government is telling Tanzanians that the vegetable mix, which has nutritional benefits, it’s all they need to keep coronavirus at bay, but it’s not the case“reveals a local doctor to the BBC.
And it’s not the only one. The leaders of the country’s Catholic Church have recently warned the population to comply with the measures. “COVID is not over, it is here. Let’s not be reckless, we have to protect ourselves, wash our hands with soap and water. We also have to go back to wearing masks“, alleges Yuda Thadei Ruwaichi, bishop of Dar es Salaam, the most populous city in the African country. Similarly, the secretary of the Tanzanian Episcopal Conference, Charles Kitima, reveals a increase in funeral services. Thus, they have gone from having “one or two requiem masses” a week, to doing them daily..
From the Tanzanian government, they criticize these statements, assuring that they are alarmist. The Deputy Minister of Health, Goodluck Mollel, ensures that “these matters should be left to the scientists. If there is a problem, the Government will explain it. People must continue with their usual productive activities. ”
Despite having a marked denialist nature, the possible presence of the virus in the country has also slipped on occasion. This was the case in January, when two Danish nationals visited the country and then tested positive for the South African variant, President Magufuli blamed Tanzanians for traveling abroad and “import a strange new coronavirus”.
Also recently, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mabula Mchembe, said after visiting several hospitals that patients with respiratory problems had hypertension, kidney failure, or asthma. However, a comment on social networks from the ministry assured that “not all patients in the hospital have coronavirus”. So, understandably, some do.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.