Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has banned fumigation in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country, saying the exercise is only effective in eliminating mosquitoes and cockroaches, and not ridding an area of coronavirus.
Addressing the nation from Chato area in Geita region, northwestern Tanzania, on Wednesday, April 22, the president said there is no proof that fumigating an area shields it against coronavirus, observing that “if that was the case, then developed countries that have been fumigating cities day in, day out, could have already been rid of the novel coronavirus, completely”.
“There is no amount of fumigation that kills coronavirus!” he said in a public address aired on Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).
“The so-called fumigation that was done in Dar es Salaam is stupidity. You can’t kill coronavirus using chlorine. Such an exercise, only eliminates mosquitoes and cockroaches. From today (Wednesday, April 22), I order that the Ministry of Health stops all fumigation exercises in Tanzania. Unless we are ridding cities of mosquitoes and cockroaches, I do not want to see any fumigation taking place,” added the Head of State.
Magufuli, in his address, also expressed skepticism in accepting face masks donated by foreign nations, saying before allowing the masks to be used by Tanzanian citizens, the Ministry of Health must first ascertain that they “were not laced with coronavirus”.
“We must interrogate who manufactured the face masks, who is donating them to us, and what is the motivation of their generosity. We shouldn’t always trust anything donated to us by foreigners. We could be catching coronavirus from the masks donated to us,” said the president.
Magufuli also challenged the Health ministry to communicate news about recovered patients, and shun focusing only on the negative aspect of coronavirus in Tanzania.
“I understand that close to 100 people have recovered from the disease in Tanzania. I am yet to get the official figures though. Out of the 284 confirmed cases in Tanzania, only ten have died. Why should we be treating coronavirus like it is a death sentence? We should also focus on highlighting the positive aspects of our healthcare system, people are recovering from this contagion and that needs to be highlighted,” he said.
Lock down Dar es Salaam? Never!
The president said despite his office being subjected to pressure to announce a lockdown in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, he won’t succumb to the “undue pressure”.
“I won’t shut Dar es Salaam over coronavirus crisis, never!” he said emphatically.
“If you do not know, Dar es Salaam generates 80 per cent of Tanzania’s gross domestic product. So, you want me to order vehicles to stop transporting rice and potatoes to the city? You want me to direct all women selling fabric materials to close shop and go home? I won’t lock down Dar es Salaam, never,” he said.
In the address, the president urged the World Bank and other international lenders to write off debts owed by countries struggling to combat COVID-19, instead of making available a “COVID-19 management loans” to developing nations.
“Every month, Tanzania pays its creditors Tsh700 billion (Ksh32.4 billion) in loan settlements. Out of that money, about Tsh200 billion (Ksh9.3 billion) or Tsh300 billion (Ksh13.9 billion) goes to World Bank. I now urge the lenders that instead of creating newer loan facilities for developing nations in the name of helping them fight coronavirus crisis, why don’t they write off certain debts owed to them by these countries? If that is not possible, why can’t the World Bank offer debt relief by saying that they have waived a certain percentage of these countries’ debt burdens?” posed Magufuli.