The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked Tanzania to start reporting and sharing its Covid-19 cases.
Tanzania among few countries worldwide that have failed to publicise data on Coronavirus cases reported since the pandemic struck early last year.
The East African nation last reported its virus data in May, 2020 when it confirmed 20 deaths and 500 infections, then in April President John Magufuli declared Tanzania “Coronavirus-free".
Health experts in many countries, including Kenya, have speculated that Tanzania hiding effects of the virus, with talk heightened after a number of government officials died in the past week.
Seif Sharif Hamad, the First Vice President of Zanzibar, died on Wednesday last week after his party announced earlier that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Hamad’s death was followed by that of head of the civil service, John Kijazi, on the same day with no reasons being given officially by Magufuli’s government for his sudden death.
In a statement, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condoled with Tanzanians but urged Magufuli to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share its data.
Tedros noted that many Tanzanians who had travelled outside the country had tested positive for Covid-19 but it is difficult to establish how serious the spread of the virus is in the country.
“This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond,” the WHO boss said.
A stubborn Magufuli has always downplayed Coronavirus refusing to take steps to tame its spread with Tanzanian health minister earlier this month ruling out any vaccination plans.
On Friday at the burial of Kijazi, However, the president seemed to admit the virus was ravaging Tanzania but vowed to defeat the virus this year as the country ostensibly did last year.
Magufuli later on Sunday encouraged people in Tanzania to wear locally made Covid-19 masks to avoid getting infected raising queries about the safety of imported face masks.