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Tanzanian President Magufuli faces backlash for worship meetings amid virus

John Magufuli
John Magufuli Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

DODOMA-(MaraviPost)-Tanzanian President John Magufuli is being criticized for asking people to continue going to places of worship at a time when restrictions should be stepped up to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Just before announcing six more confirmed cases of the virus to take the country’s total to 12 on Sunday, Magufuli was in church where he likened the pandemic to Satan, needing divine intervention to be quelled.

Tanzania should take precautions but the government hasn’t prohibited prayers in mosques and churches because that’s where “there is true salvation,” Magufuli said in Swahili during a church service in the capital, Dodoma.

Oppostion politician Zitto Kabwe criticized Magufuli’s comments and urged him to close mosques and churches to add to measures to fight the outbreak. “Let’s not argue with science,” Kabwe said in Swahili on his Twitter account. “Coronavirus is very bad.”

On Saturday, Lazaro Nyalandu, a member of the central committee of the main opposition party Chadema called on the government to ban all public gatherings and close the country’s borders.

Magufuli’s comments came as neighboring countries expanded restrictions to reduce contagion.

Kenya suspended all international passenger flights and stopped public meetings including religious gatherings.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni closed borders, exempting cargo shipments and a set limit on crew numbers.

Tanzania closed schools and suspended sports events on March 17, a day after the government confirmed its first coronavirus case.

In the speech announcing new Covid-19 infections, Magufuli gave additional directives including quarantining travelers from countries that reported cases at their own cost.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com

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