Tanzania is coronavirus free due to the power of prayer, according to the country’s president, six weeks after officials stopped updating statistics on the virus.
The number of infected people in Tanzania has stood at 509 for the past six weeks, even while opposition leaders and neighboring countries voiced concerns of a mounting health crisis in the East African country.
Despite Johns Hopkins still reporting the 509 cases in the country, with the unofficial number likely far higher, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli now claims the country to be free of the virus.
“Corona in our country has been removed by the powers of God,” President John Magufuli declared at a church service on Sunday, Reuters reported.
The president went on to praise churchgoers for not wearing face masks, warning that masks not approved by his government could be infected with the virus, Reuters added.
Magufuli has been steadfast in his belief that the threat from virus has been exaggerated and is instead a way for unnamed forces to sabotage Tanzania and its economy.
The president has fired health officials and refused to put restrictions on movement in line with most health advice. He has also claimed his son was healed of COVID-19 by drinking a mixture of ginger and lemonade.
“When I came to power they said we have cases of the Zika virus and I fired the person who announced that ... Since I fired him five years ago, Tanzania has not had cases of Zika,” Magufuli said at a teachers' conference Friday in the capital, Dodoma.
“Then they said we have Ebola knowing that tourists will not come to a country which has Ebola and people will not work here if there is Ebola,” he said, adding that no one had died of that virus.
“Now we have corona. They said bodies will be lying on streets in Africa. But they did not know God loves Tanzania,” Magufuli said. “We prayed for three days and the coronavirus is finished.”
Despite saying coronavirus is “finished,” Magufuli did say that there were apparently four people sick with the virus – in a country of 60 million.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy released an alert last month stating that hospitals in the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam were overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
Opposition politician Zitto Kabwe later said that Magufuli had de-congested hospitals in an effort to show a low number of infections.
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