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There’s still huge amounts we don’t know about long-term Covid


WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) has renewed its call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share information on what measures it is taking to combat the pandemic.

“WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Saturday. 

Early on in the pandemic, the country’s President John Magufuli dismissed the seriousness of coronavirus in Tanzania, urging his citizens to “pray coronavirus away.” In June, he claimed his country had eradicated coronavirus “by the grace of God.”

Tanzania belongs to a small list of countries that don’t publish data on Covid-19 cases or deaths. Tedros called on the country to reverse course and provide transparent data. 

“I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination,” his statement read. 

The extent to which coronavirus has spread in Tanzania remains unknown, but Tedros said cases involving infected Tanzanians traveling abroad underscored the need for “robust action.”  

“A number of Tanzanians traveling 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,” his statement said. 

Tanzania has not updated its Covid-19 data since late April, leaving the last number of reported confirmed cases at 509 and the death toll at 21. Those are also the latest numbers that Johns Hopkins University has published on its website. 

Last month, WHO urged officials in Tanzania to follow science in the fight against coronavirus, after Magufuli suggested approved vaccines are “dangerous” and that “not all vaccines are of good intentions to our nation.”

“There are some of our fellow Tanzanians who recently did travel abroad in search of corona vaccines, they are the ones who brought back corona in our country after returning,” Magufuli said at an event on January 27. 

“My fellow Tanzanians, let us stand firm, some of these vaccines are not good for us.” 

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