Africa: Don't Give Continent Loans, Write-Off Debts, Magufuli Says

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has urged the World Bank and other international lenders to write off debts to African countries, instead of giving loans for fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking on Wednesday during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic from his Chato home in western Tanzania, President Magufuli said the country pays about Tsh700 billion ($300.9 million) to international lenders annually, an amount that can boost the fight against coronavirus.

"The World Bank alone takes between Tsh200-330 billion (about $128.9 million). This amount could be spent in the fight against the virus. Africa should stand together to push for debt write-off instead of taking loans," he said.

As at Wednesday, Tanzania had recorded 284 coronavirus infections; 256 in stable condition, seven in special care, 11 recoveries and 10 deaths, according to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

However, President Magufuli said that more people had recovered from Covid-19 than what was being reported by the Health ministry.

"What I know there are more than 100 recoveries. I wish this also should be emphasised," he said in a televised address.

The President also ruled out the possibility of locking down the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, where most cases have been reported, saying as it would hurt the economy.

"Fear is deadlier than the virus. I will never lockdown Dar es Salaam because it is an economic powerhouse generating more than 80 percent of the country's revenue," said Dr Magufuli.

He added that people should consider traditional medicine such as steam inhalation as scientists race to develop a vaccine for the deadly respiratory illness.

Covid-19, first reported in Wuhan, China, in December, has killed at least 184,325 people worldwide, with at least 2,645,703infections.

Some 723,188 people have recovered globally, according to Worldometer's count on Thursday.

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