The World Health Organization (WHO) has renewed calls for Tanzania to shelve an unconventional approach to the fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement shared on his Twitter page on Sunday, expressed concerns over recent deaths in the country linked to the virus.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 20, 2021
This week, Tanzania lost two top government officials who are said to have succumbed to COVID-19.
Zanzibar First Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad died on Wednesday morning aged 77. On the same say, Tanzanian authorities announced the passing on of Chief Secretary of the State John William Kijazi who died at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma.
While condoling with Tanzanians following the loss of the two high-ranking government officials, the WHO boss said the COVID-19 situation in the East African country “remains very concerning”.
According to Dr Tedros, WHO efforts to help Tanzania fight COVID-19 like other countries had been ignored.
“In late January, I joined Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Director for the African Region, in urging Tanzania to scale public health measures against COVID-19 and to prepare for vaccination. I also encouraged the sharing of data in light of reports of COVID-19 cases among travellers, ” the statement reads.
“Since then I have spoken with several authorities in Tanzania but WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic.”
The WHO chief is now calling on Tanzanian authorities to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data.
He also urged Tanzania to implement the public health measures “that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.”
Dr Tedors noted that Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for COVID-19.
“This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond, ” he said.
“COVID-19 is a serious disease that can cause severe illness and even death. National authorities everywhere must do all they can to protect people and save lives and WHO stands ready to support them in the response against this deadly virus.”
Tanzania stopped releasing coronavirus statistics in April last year. Then, there were at least 509 infections and 21 fatalities.
President John Pombe Magufuli, who in June last year declared Tanzania free of the virus thanks to prayers”, recently warned Tanzanians against embracing “ineffective” Covid-19 vaccines from western countries. He said steam therapy had proved effective in the fight against the pandemic in the country.