Tell people the truth about the pandemic – Tanzanian Catholic bishops

A new wave of Coronavirus infection in Tanzania has sparked alarm and new stance that forced the Tanzania Catholic Episcopal Conference (TEC) to issue an official statement to its believers and the nation.

In an official statement dated 25th January 2020, which was circulated to the cardinal, archbishops, bishops and retired bishops all over the country – to be shared their churches – TEC states that there are rampart new infections of the pandemic, and that everybody should take care of themselves.

The president of the TEC, Archibishop Gervas Nyaisonga, signed the statement calling on the church leaders to tell all believers and Tanzanians about the importance of taking precautions against the disease that continues to kill so many people around the world.

One of high-ranking officials from TEC, when asked by SAUTI KUBWA why the Church has issued the statement now, simply said: “Don’t you read or hear people dying in huge numbers and we are told the main cause of death is acute pneumonia? Do you what that means?”

He said the Church doesn’t want people to ignorantly die from a preventable virus.

One medical doctor from the government hospital in Dar es Salaam, who preferred not to be mentioned, said the rapid spread of the new variant of Coronavirus in Tanzania, just like in many countries now, is because of ignoring WHO pandemic guidelines.

He said viruses are always mutating, taking on new forms. The coronavirus has thousands of variants that have been identified even in Tanzania, and they are more highly transmissible than the normal one.

“The same protective measures that have warded off the virus throughout the pandemic — maintaining social distance, wearing masks and washing our hands — are even more critical in the face of more transmissible variants,” he said.

 By order of President John Magufuli, Tanzania stubbornly suspended the release of statistics on the COVID-19 since April last year. President Magufuli jas been claiming that there is no Corona in Tanzania because God listened to the prayers of his people. Last Sunday, during a Mass service at Chato church- President’s home village, he reiterated to the faithful that Tanzania does not have Coronavirus.

But today, following reports of numerous deaths and subsequent statements by the bishops, President Magufuli made a fresh statement accusing some Tanzanians of bringing in the new virus through the vaccines they apparently took in other countries.

Since May, last year, there have been threats from the government against anyone announcing the existence of Coronavirus or Corona patients in Tanzania. Out of fear, even the media has been hit by this dangerous stand, and stopped writing anything about Corona. Doctors have also been afraid to speak out, but some of them have been secretly telling SAUTI KUBWA that the patients are many, and the situation is dire.

Until the president banned the release of statistics, Tanzania had government records of 509 patients and 21 deaths. To date it is the only country in the world that does not have official statistics on the realities of Coronavirus.

Some analysts say the president’s decree and his announcement that Tanzania does not have a Corona is one of the reasons for the increase in the number of patients because people stopped taking precautions.

In the last few consecutive weeks, there have been many reports of illness and deaths of people through social media, much to the dismay of the public and the people who began to “rebel” against the president’s ban.

Last week, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Arusha, Isack Amani, issued a pastoral letter urging believers to take actions to refrain from political fraud regarding Coronavirus.

The Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Thadei Ruwa’ichi also made a public statement, telling the congregation: “Lets not deceive ourselves. Covid-19 still exists in Tanzania. Let’s take precautions.”

In statement from TEC, the Church leaders are urged to urge the faithful and the general public to adhere to the principles of protection against the disease.

Bishop Nyaisonga, a steadfast enthusiast of President Magufuli, says the better ways to deal with the disease is to take precautions as directed by the World Health Organization (WHO); which recommends hand washing with running water (using soap), avoiding gatherings and wearing masks.

While Coronavirus presence is reported to getting worse, President Magufuli has fled to Chato District, Geita Region, where he has been turning his private home the State House for almost a month now. There are reports that the situation is calamitous in every region although Dar es Salaam, Kagera  and Dodoma appears to be leading to patients with unexpected deaths.

This is the second time this Catholic Church in the country has issued a warning to its members. Earlier last year, the Catholic issued the following instructions to all believers regarding the existence of Coronavirus.

All believers were asked to pray a special prayer to ask God to protect the mass from the infection of the Coronavirus and experts should find scientific solutions to prevent the spread of this virus.

The Church instructed all followers and general public to adhere to the procedures to protect ourselves from Coronavirus as prescribed by the government and WHO. The Church temporarily stopped blessing water at the entrance, not shaking hands and asked those collecting and counting offerings (especially money) to sanitize.

The novel coronavirus was first reported in Tanzania in mid-March 2020, but, after recording up to 509 cases and 21 deaths in late April, the nation announced its status as “coronavirus-free” in June.

That same month, Kassim Majaliwa, the country’s prime minister, told parliament there are only 66 active coronavirus cases in the country, but did not provide further details.

Since then, government has been silent on the coronavirus with a strong politic of denial and no data released to the public on infections or death