Fresh Corona fears hit “Covid-free” Tanzania

Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi (right) with his counterpart from Madagascar, testing the Covid-Organic syrup from Madagascar when the former flew to Antananarivo to collect the concoction. The syrup proved failure.

THERE are all significant signs that Tanzania may soon have a huge number of Covid-19 victims as three major hospitals in the country’s economic capital, Dar es Salaam, are flocked with Corona patients.

Hospital beds at Aga Khan Hospital, Hindu Mandal Hospital and Rabininsia Memorial Hospital have patients tested positive of Covid-19.

A recent survey by SAUTI KUBWA shows that political and military big-shots are among the affected. When President Benjamin Mkapa passed on, in July 2020, official reports cited a heart attack as the cause of the death, but our sources insisted it was corona-related.

In October 2020, the new MD for CRDB Bank, Abdulmajid Mussa Nsekela, was hospitalised at Aga Khan hospital after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Reliable sources, including doctors and close relatives of admitted patients, have confirmed that the pandemic is silently killing people at an alarming rate.

President John Magufuli declared Tanzania Covid-free since June 2020 after three days of fasting and prayers. The Media are forbidden to research and report about the “presence of Covid-19” in Tanzania. Since then, Tanzania has recorded many silent deaths related to Corona, known mainly to the deceased’s relatives and health workers.

 A medical doctor at Aga Khan Hospital, in the city centre – who prefers not to be mentioned, without giving the exact number of those infected by Covid-19, said the number has been growing but most of them do recover after three to four days. He did not disclose the prescriptions.

Aga Khan hospital has reportedly developed a special formula for the treatment of Covid-19.

He said most of the patient comes with respiratory complications, high fever and sometimes headache, are clinically plaid and when diagnosed with Covid-19 are admitted with special supervisions – and starts treatments.

The same scenario was revealed at the other two hospitals whereby sources confirmed to have admitted Covid-19 infection patients but refused to cooperate fully to SAUTI KUBWA due to the fact that it is “prohibited by Magufuli’s government to disclose anything on the pandemic.” In Tanzania now, the pandemic is considered as a security and economic issue, never a health matter.

A prominent member of one of the three national response committees to Covid-19 under Prime Minister’s office, when contacted, said she would not comment because their team does not exist any more following the president’s declaration of his country as Corona-free.

Since April 29, 2020, Tanzania government banned the flow of statistics and stopped reporting cases, the country had a total of 509 confirmed cases and 21 deaths since then. Following this action, the country has been widely criticised for its “irresponsible” Covid-19 response, which has mainly involved widespread denialism.

 Despite all the disparagement, President Magufuli has declared Tanzania as “Covid-19” free country. “What a scorn!” shouted one when he heard of the president statement on national television!

 Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said WHO had not received any reports of cases from Tanzania — yet nor had they received any reports of zero cases in accordance with the international health regulations, which would also help neighbouring countries in assessing the level of health risk.

“We have worked to continue to encourage Tanzania to share information of the pandemic so that it is clear not only to WHO but most importantly it is clear to the world what is the situation in the East African country,” she said.

The new wave of the pandemic registered in those three hospitals is due to people not fully respecting the restrictions for containing the virus; wearing face masks, not washing hands properly and ignoring the necessity of social distancing.

There have been multiple instances of people holding large in-person gatherings – especially during election campaigns (which ended late last month), in markets, pubs, schools and in public transports.

Still rushing for magical Covid-19 cure

In Tanzania, where the president has taken a different but yet equally dangerous approach to the pandemic—refused to order a lockdown and promoted prayer as a cure—self-proclaimed prophets and national institutions are competing with claims of remedies for Covid-19.

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus in Tanzania in March, various medical institutions, traditional healers, politicians, spiritual leaders, among others, claimed to have “discovered” a remedy for the deadly virus.

The so-called Covid-19 remedies range from cocktail herbal to divine-powered “medications”, routinely promoted by some religious leaders.

It’s a trend that is not exclusive to the East African giant, across the border in neighbouring Burundi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Benin, among others; all sorts of Covid-19 cures have been mooted.

In Madagascar, they have gone a step better, the president and government long endorsed a locally produced concoction as a magical cure the world has been waiting for. But it later proved a failure. More statistics shows a graph of death and infected going up and up.

In Tanzania, as you travel across the street of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, posters greet you—all promoting one cure after another and social media too, is flooded with all sorts of cures both from the state agencies and individuals.

 With President Magufuli refusing to ban commercial activities and church gatherings, the claimants are making a stake at Christian gatherings and market places.

Government institutions

But the rush for Covid-19 cure has not been left to soothsayers and prophets only, the Tanzanian government seems eager to give Madagascar a run for its money, apparently.

National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Tanzania’s leading research institute claims to have a preventive remedy for Covid-19, with the given name NIMRCAF, which is the herbal and grounded mixture of ginger, lemons, green pepper.

 NIMR Director-General Prof. Yunus Mgaya said in that after the first coronavirus case was announced in the country, the institute commenced research on the epidemiology of the disease in which they also scrutinize symptoms peculiar to Tanzania to those noted in patients in other countries.

 Prof. Mgaya, He said at the institute, they have several experts on traditional medicinal plants that have been able to come up with NimrCaf, a tonic used in reducing the severity of Coronavirus. One bottle is sold at Tanzania Shillings 10,000 (USD5).

 Another government institution, Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organization (Tirdo), has come out with a remedy named Covidol, discovered by Prof. Hamis Malebo, a lead research scientist at the institute who said the tonic is a concoction of different natural medicinal plants and seeds. He declined to name them. He said, “the tonic is responding very well to those with Covid-19.”

 The Director-General of Tirdo, Prof. Mkumbukwa Mtambo, said the remedy has shown some positive signs to coronavirus infected people and revealed that they have produced 900 bottles of the mixture ready for the needy.

‘Men of god’

 Apart from the government, Covid-19 has also triggered the influx of some spiritual men and women claiming divine power to heal anyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

 One of them is famous Bishop Josephat Gwajima turned politician of Glory of Christ Tanzania Church (GCTC) popularly known as Ufufuo na Uzima – based in Dar es Salaam who has claimed that “God” has spoken to him and asked him to rescue Tanzanians from the pandemic. He is now a member of parliament.

 He once said he has asked Prime Minister to allow him to visit quarantine centres for prayers.  The office of PM in Dodoma was yet to receive the official request from Gwajima when asked by our reporter.

 Other self-defined prophets; Moses Ibrahim, popularly known as Namba Saba of Word and God’s Services of Arumeru, in Arusha and Komando Mashimo of  Dar es Salaam are claiming to have divine-powered water to instantly treat coronavirus.

 Every time during and “after” the pandemic, President Magufuli was insisting people thank God’s power as the virus has gone. He has been reiterating that the virus is only satanic which does not exist in the body of Jesus Christ and called for people to keep on flocking to places of worship to curb its spread.

 Local herbalists, too, have not let the rush leave them behind; turning social media into the market place for their various concoctions.

Among the many alleged cures include mixing traditional medicinal fruits (lemons, oranges), trees (neem), tea grasses, and seeds to make a tonic for drinking.

 All this appeared to get state endorsement as officials, including President Magufuli and his ministers, are encouraging people to use local inhaling steam, which is now very common in the East African country, to fight any covid-19 infections.

So rampant and widespread is the hunt for the cure that these alleged “discoveries” has left Dar es Salaam running short of citric fruits and prompted a price hike.  The prices of a lemon and an orange have jumped from Tanzania Shillings 100 to 400.

 The then Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu warned all people and institutions to proclaim to have treatment for Covid-19, however she said stern measures would be taken to anyone doing that, arguing government is yet to issue any “go-ahead” to any discoveries. But things are continuing as usual, people are claiming to cure the pandemic, nothing happens.

 But with Tanzania is among the few African countries which received consignment of much publicized Madagascar anti-coronavirus remedy Covid Organics, the government’s position on the local herb stems from a covid-19 policy marked with inherent contradictions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is still maintaining that there is no cure for Covid-19 and has advised against all self-medication, citing that the mixture was brought for medical verification before being approved for human use.