The World Health Organisation said Thursday that it was in touch with Tanzania as President John Magufuli on Wednesday called for caution against Covid-19 vaccines being developed by Western scientists. The president also said that Tanzania is not planning to impose Covid-19 restrictions or lockdown anytime.
He was reacting to a message by Archbishop Jude-Thaddeus Ruwa’Ichi of the Catholic Church in Dar es Salaam to congregants on January 23 that Covid-19 is still at large and that it is unfortunate that churches have abandoned all precautions against being infected during the global pandemic.
The president ordered all churches to reinstate the use of sanitizers, social distancing and handwashing.
In clear reference to the country, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the head of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Africa told reporters that Tanzania should prepare to receive the vaccine.
“Africa is at a crossroads and all Africans must double down on preventive measures. Science shows that vaccines work,” she said during a virtual press briefing.
She also added that WHO officials were in touch with Tanzanian officials and that Tanzania should implement measures and prepare for vaccinations.
Tanzania is among African countries listed to receive at least two million doses of vaccines through the African Union Initiative.
Last December Tanzania’s ministry of Health said it had no plans of importing Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr Dorothy Gwajima, Tanzania’s Minister for Health did not respond to messages from The EastAfrican on Friday, but an official in the ministry who requested anonymity said the ministry’s stance on Covid-19 has not changed.
The last time Tanzania issued Covid-19 statistics was April 29, 2020, and the country had recorded 509 infections with 183 recoveries and 21 deaths.
There is no official Covid-19-related statistics or information available in Tanzania and issuing of unsanctioned Covid-19 information is strictly prohibited and restricted to the president, prime minister, the minister for Health and the government’s chief spokesman.
President Magufuli told Health ministry officials not to naïvely accepting imported vaccines and instructed them not to rush to accept “a white man-made” Covid-19 vaccine without due diligence from local experts.
He said Tanzanians will continue taking precaution and natural remedies while working and praying.
Recently, the administration of International School Moshi issued an apology after it had announced that a pupil had been confirmed to have Covid-19 and ordered the day scholar to self-isolate at home whole restricting the movement of boarders.
The Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner refuted the Covid-19 claims.
This article was first published in The EastAfrican on January 30, 2020.