A senior politician has sparked disbelief among Tanzanians by saying that coronavirus has “ended” and calling on the public to celebrate in the streets on Sunday.
Paul Makonda, who is regional commissioner of the country’s biggest city Dar es Salaam, even told residents which shops had 80%-off sales so they could buy new clothes to look their best as they party.
His announcement that transmission of the virus had ended is not backed by any available data. In recent days the US embassy in Tanzania warned that many hospitals in the city had been “overwhelmed” while the opposition ACT-Wazalendo disputed claims that infection rates are falling, accusing the government of “broadcasting a select few statistics”.
More than a month has passed since the health ministry last provided a full list of new cases and deaths. President John Magufuli, meanwhile, insists there is a decline and has urged Tanzanians to take part in three days of prayer from Friday to Sunday to unite in gratitude.
Many members of the public are worried about Mr. Makonda’s call to celebrate because they know social distancing won’t be respected. According to the latest available data, there have been 509 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21 deaths in Tanzania.