04 February 2021, The Tablet

Tanzania bishops urge more Covid protection

Tanzania bishops urge more Covid protection

Tanzania's president John Magufuli declared the country free of Covid-19 last June.
Tanzania State House/PA

Tanzanian Catholic Bishop Gervas John Nyaisonga has urged the people to step up protection against the coronavirus, warning of a new wave of the disease.

Nyaisonga, the president of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) said many countries had witnessed the deaths of thousands due to the pandemic and Tanzania was not an Island.

“We have all the reasons to take precaution and pray to God that the pandemic does not overwhelm our country,” said Nyaisonga in a letter.

The bishops' letter added weight to earlier warnings by other Catholic clerics in the country.

Bishop Yuda Thadei Ruwaichi said that the virus still existed in Tanzania and the people needed to protect themselves through washing hands with soap and water. He urged a return to wearing of masks.

“We were used to having one or two requiem masses per week in urban parishes, but now we have daily masses. Something is amiss,” Fr Charles Katima, the TEC general secretary was quoted as saying by BBC.

The clerics’ comments contradict President John Pombe Magufuli’s position that the virus had been ended in Tanzania.

Last year in June, Magufuli, a staunch catholic, declared the country free of the corona virus. He attributed the defeat to prayers by both Christians and Muslims.

In March, he had cast doubt on testing, saying a goat, a paw paw and a quail tested secretly had returned positive of results. With the president failing to order any lockdown or curfew, places of worship had remained open.

On January 27, the leader warned against foreign vaccines, saying the inoculations were dangerous. By now, according to Magufuli, if western scientists were able to make vaccines, they should have discovered some for Aids, tuberculosis, malaria and cancer.

“Let not think they love us very much. This country is rich. Africa is rich, and everyone is jealous of our wealth. We must be careful,” said the President.

But as he took a different path, other African nations were preparing to receive millions of doses of the vaccines ordered from the western companies. The African Union has provisionally secured about 270 million vaccines for all its 55 states, under the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

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