Tanzania’s president is again claiming the country is free of the coronavirus because of the power of prayer, six weeks after his government stopped publicly updating virus data.
“Corona in our country has been removed by the powers of God,” President John Magufuli declared at a church service on Sunday. He praised the congregation for not wearing face masks, amid cheers from the faithful.
The president has questioned, even fired, health officials and refused to limit people’s movements, and he has claimed his son was healed of COVID-19 by drinking a mixture of ginger and lemonade.
At a teachers’ conference last Friday in the capital, Dodoma, he insisted, "They said bodies will be lying on streets in Africa. But they did not know God loves Tanzania. We prayed for three days and the coronavirus is finished.”
He claims only four people are sick with COVID-19 in the country of nearly sixty million people. However, health officials, opposition figures and some neighbouring countries worry that cases in Tanzania continue to climb. Opposition figures have estimated that cases could be in the tens of thousands and last month the U.S. Embassy released a security alert asserting that hospitals in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, were overwhelmed with virus patients.