Shock, disbelief as senior Tanzanian official says ‘Let’s party, coronavirus has ended’
London, May 22, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A senior Tanzanian 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 where to shop and 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 including many Tanzanian officials are worried about Mr Makonda’s call to celebrate because they know social distancing won’t be respected.
Videos of night burials have been circulating recently on social media in Tanzania causing some to call into question the government’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
The footage shows the funerals taking place under tight security with people wearing personal protective equipment and very few mourners in attendance.
Opposition politicians and activists believe it may be part of cover-up by the authorities who have not been releasing regular updates on coronavirus.
Unlike other countries, Tanzania has not opted for strict lockdown measures although mass gatherings at funerals, like weddings, have been banned
According to the latest available data, there have been 509 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21 deaths in Tanzania. BBC