Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday voiced his reservations about the accuracy of Covid-19 test results from the National Community Health Laboratory, saying some of them left a lot to be desired.
Dr Magufuli said the newly-appointed Health ministry permanent secretary, Prof Mabula Mchembe, supervised Covid-19 laboratory testing for samples taken from non-humans - and some of them tested positive. For example, he said, samples taken from a goat, a pawpaw and a quail tested Covid-19-positive - and he suspects a “dirty game” going on in the laboratory.
Tests on a sheep and waste oil showed negative results, while tests on breadfruits had inconclusive results.
“The findings demonstrate that something is wrong somewhere. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a huge task ahead,” he said - adding: “Under normal circumstances, those who tested positive (a goat, a pawpaw and a quail) had to be quarantined.”
The Head of State was speaking from his Chato hometown in Geita Region during the swearing-in of the newly appointed Constitutional and Legal Affairs minister, Mwigulu Nchemba, who replaces Dr Augustine Mahiga who died on Friday, May 1, 2020.
Speaking during the live televised event, Dr Magufuli said there was a smell of dirty games at the national laboratories involving public servants and equipment.
“Some workers may have been put on the payroll of imperialists. Probably, they are lacking professionalism - which I don’t believe. However, dirty games could be in imported reagents and swaps used in the testing processes,” he said.
The scenario shows that there could be Tanzanians who tested positive while they actually haven’t contracted the killer virus.
In that regard, he directed Dr Nchemba to collaborate with government authorities to investigate the national laboratories and take legal measures against possible criminal(s).
“Investigate whether Covid-19 laboratory equipment has been tampered with to give positive results after a certain number of samples,” he said.
However, the Head of State said his statement doesn’t mean the disease wasn’t real; rather, the country shouldn’t be derailed from its development agenda.
According to him, the Covid-19 situation is being exaggerated, saying the ratio of 16 deaths recorded out of a 60-million population was minimal compared to other countries’ ratios.
He called on the public to ignore intimidations and work hard as the disease is only at the elementary stage. He also said that this was the right time for higher learning and research institutions - including the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) - to display their integrity and professionalism.
Dr Magufuli warned politicians against using the disease for political gain, insisting that no part of the country will be locked down.
“Business operations that continue in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country are the ones which enable the government to pay salaries to public servants, including teachers. But, lockdown advocators are the ones using government vehicles that use free fuel,” he said.
He said other short-sighted politicians have emotionally called for closure of markets, including the Kariakoo Market which is depended upon by Dar es Salaam’s six million residents.
“Others have called for boycotting the ongoing parliamentary budget session. I’ve instructed that no allowances should be paid to them. Let them be paid by the imperialists who have contracted them,” he said.
Dr Magufuli also revealed that Tanzania has been in talks with the Madagascar government asking it to avail its Covid-19 cure to Tanzania.
“I have been in talks with Madagascar. They say they have discovered a medicine for Covid-19. We will send a plane to pick up the medicine so that Tanzanians can benefit from it,” he said - adding that the government was working round the clock in efforts to surmount the Covid-19 scourge.
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina has recommended an organic concoction to treat Covid-19 patients. He claims that the concoction - named ‘Covid Organics’ (CVO), a form of herbal tea – is already curing Covid-19 patients.
President Magufuli also warned against social media reports connecting every death that occurs in the country to Covid-19, saying that many other people are dying of other health complications.
Dr Magufuli challenged the decision made by the Mtwara Regional Commissioner, Gelasius Byakanwa, that former Mtwara District Commissioner Evod Mmanda shouldn’t be transported to his home village for burial.
“If health practitioners on Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) continue serving citizens, why didn’t the same be used to preserve the body before being transported to (Mmanda’s) place of domicile (Moshi) for respectful burial?” he questioned.
The president said during these trying times, some religious leaders have lost faith in God and forgotten their holy orders as good shepherds.
“We are supposed to follow instructions from healthcare professionals because the disease is real. But, we should always remember God,” he said.
He added: “I commend the National Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) Chief - Sheikh Abubakary Zubeiry bin Ally - and the Tanzania Episcopal Council (TEC) President, Bishop Gervas Nyaisonga, for giving firm positions on prayers and fasting during the pandemic,” he said.
Dr Magufuli also cautioned the public to be careful of the international media, noting that they have shown special interest in reporting the country’s Covid-19 status than elsewhere else in the world.
He said the water commissioning of MV Victoria and MV Butiama has been delayed after the South Korean experts failed to come to Tanzania for the occasion because of the global pandemic.
The President called on Dr Nchemba to emulate the good things that were implemented by his predecessor, Dr Mahiga.