As the coronavirus outbreak continues to tighten its grip worldwide, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has called for citizens to “continue praying to God and not depending on facemasks”. According to reports while the pressure on the government to take precautionary measures has increased and countries across Africa have imposed lockdowns, Tanzania has not yet taken such steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 disease. Magufuli has not only called for the three-day prayer since April 17 to fight the pandemic but has also urged people to continue going to churches for these prayers and “build faith”.
However, most people across the globe have been urged to practise social distancing, cover faces with masks in a bid to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease. Several countries are also put under lockdown, refraining millions to remain indoors. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Tanzanian President assured its citizens at a church in Dodoma last month that the deadly outbreak is “just a change of wind” and “it will go like others have gone”. The same message was restated by Magfuli on his message on Good Friday and said the God would protect Tanzanians from the coronavirus.
According to reports, Tanzania has reported its first case of COVID-19 disease on March 16 and in just last one week, the number of infections in the country rose from 32 to 147 including five fatalities. As of April 20, Tanzania has confirmed 170 cases of COVID-19 disease with seven deaths. A lawmaker from the opposition party, Zitto Kabwe expressed disappointment with the “lack of seriousness by the government” while talking to an international news agency. Kabwe even called for a partial lockdown in places including Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza and the Tanzanian capital, Dodoma. And a total lockdown of the tourist hotspots and island, Zanzibar.
However, irrespective of repeated warnings by Tanzanian MPs, Magufuli has encouraged people to continue life as usual but has asked citizens to avoid “unnecessary gatherings”. According to the Tanzanian President, the country’s citizens should continue “working hard to build the nation” and the pandemic shall not be the reason to stop people from doing so. According to reports, Magufuli added, “Coronavirus should not be a reason to destroy our economy at all."