Tanzania has not reported Covid-19 cases or deaths since late April. The US embassy warned that healthcare facilities could be swamped and that poor hospital capacity could “result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care.”
President John Magufuli, who was reelected in a disputed October 2020 election, has repeatedly downplayed the virus and recommended outlandish cures.
Magufuli has also refused to acquire vaccines for the population of 58 million, saying they are “dangerous” and “not good for us.”
“There are some of our fellow Tanzanians who recently did travel abroad in search of corona vaccines, they are the ones who brought back corona in our country after returning,” Magufuli said at an event on January 27. “My fellow Tanzanians, let us stand firm, some of these vaccines are not good for us.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged officials in Tanzania earlier this month to follow science in the fight against Covid-19.
During a news conference on February 1, Tanzania’s Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima didn’t say when the country will start receiving vaccines but instead reiterated the government’s suggested hygiene practices, which include drinking plenty of water and taking local herbs, which the government claims, without evidence, can combat the virus.
The leader of one of the largest political parties in Tanzania, the Alliance for Change and Transparency, has spoken out against the government’s Covid-19 denial in recent weeks.
“Tanzania’s neighbours need to understand that as long as Tanzania refuses to be a responsible partner in this battle against Covid-19, the entire region remains vulnerable!” Zitto Kabwe said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Two people who traveled from Tanzania to the UK were carrying the B.1351 variant first detected in South Africa.
CNN’s Radina Gigova contributed to this report.