Tanzania’s missing president is in Kenya with Covid, says opposition leader | Tanzania

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Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, is critically ill in a hospital in Kenya after contracting coronavirus, which he has repeatedly dismissed as a threat, an opposition leader has said, citing sources with knowledge of the case.

The 61-year-old president suffered a cardiac arrest and flew to a hospital in Nairobi for urgent treatment, Tundu Lissu told the BBC.

Lissu’s claims have not been independently verified, but Magufuli has not been seen for almost two weeks, sparking widespread speculation about his health and whereabouts. His absence is unusual as he is known for frequent public speeches and appearances on state television several times a week.

Another politician told the Associated Press that he had spoken to people close to the president who said he was seriously ill and hospitalised. The politician asked to remain anonymous for fear of a backlash from Tanzania’s repressive regime.

Magufuli has repeatedly denied that Covid-19 is spreading in the east African country and claimed without evidence that vaccines are dangerous, suggesting instead that people pray and inhale herbal-infused steam.

Despite numerous requests by the World Health Organization, Tanzania has not published any statistics on cases since May, when it registered 509 infections. It has no known testing programme in place and health officials have been prevented from mentioning the virus.

Relatives of Covid-19 victims, health workers and opposition figures have held Magufuli responsible for potentially thousands of deaths.

“He has never worn a mask, he has been going to mass public gatherings without taking any precautions that people are taking all around the world,” Lissu told the BBC on Wednesday, from exile in Belgium. “This is someone who has repeatedly and publicly trashed established medicine He’s relied on prayers and herbal concoctions of unproven value,” he said.

Speculation about the president’s whereabouts has grown in the region since he was last seen on 27 February at a ceremony in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam.

Kenya’s leading newspaper, the Nation, reported on Wednesday that an African leader had been admitted to a hospital in Nairobi, citing anonymous government sources. A Kenyan government spokesman told Associated Press he had no knowledge that Magafuli was in Kenya.

Tanzania’s government has not addressed questions about his health and whereabouts.

Last week, the Catholic church in Tanzania said 60 nuns and 25 priests had died in the last two months after showing symptoms of coronavirus, and urged the country to take the virus more seriously.

Burial workers in Dar es Salaam and on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar told the Observer last month they faced unprecedented demand. Churches said priests were conducting more funeral services than “in living memory” while hospitals were overwhelmed with an acute shortage of staff according to doctors.

“We have elderly patients coming in, showing every symptom that we’ve seen around the world but we cannot test … we are not allowed to even mention Covid-19. We have to call it pneumonia,” said one doctor, who requested anonymity for fear of punishment by employers and authorities.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Tanzania’s missing president is in Kenya with Covid, says opposition leader | Tanzania

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