DODOMA – The Tanzanian government has come under fire from regional health experts for not giving regular updates about coronavirus cases.
The country last issued an update last Wednesday, with positive cases standing at 480 and deaths standing at 16. This, health experts say, has been deliberately done by the government to conceal the rising number of cases which are feared to be very high given that President John Pombe Magufuli dismissed the threat of coronavirus pandemic and refused to institute lockdown measures.
However, the National Coordinator for Covid-19 Response and Ministry of Health’s Public Health Emergencies’ Risk Communication Officer, Dr Tumaini Haonga, dismissed claims that they are concealing information about the impact of coronavirus on the economy.
Dr Haonga, in an interview with the Citizen, a Tanzania-based newspaper, said the testing of samples is ongoing at the National Health Laboratory and results would be announced by the relevant authorities.
He did not, however, explain if there was a set date or interval for release of the data.
On Sunday President John Magufuli took a swipe at the test results issued by the National Health Laboratory, saying the lab should be investigated for alleged “sabotage,” after samples of sheep, pawpaw and goat that were secretly sent to the facility returned positive results.
The laboratory’s director, Dr Nyambura Moremi, and the quality assurance manager, Mr Jacob Lusekelo, remain suspended pending investigations, heightening concerns as to whether further results on tested samples would be released to the public.
Dr Haonga told The Citizen Thursday that people who have been tested for Covid-19 in the country are receiving results but he emphasized that the public release of the results will depend on whether there is enough data to issue out to the public.
“We noted that it was not sensible to give daily updates of small numbers. It was then decided that a comprehensive report would be issued by the Ministry of Health or another relevant authority at an opportune time, alongside other public health sensitisation messages on Covid-19 prevention,” said Dr Haonga.