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Covid-19 scare hits Tanzania’s Parliament after 3 MPs died ‘mysteriously’

Tanzania’s parliament has been hit by a covid-19 scare after three parliamentarians died of unknown causes in the past 11 days.

On Friday, Augustine Mahiga, 74, Tanzania’s Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs died with no official explanation for cause of death.

Before his death, on April 20, another Member of Parliament (MP), Gertrude Rwakatare died and then on April 29, another MP, Richard Ndassa died.

The causes of all these deaths have not been explained properly yet by officials.

But following the death of Ndassa, local media reported that the hotel where 61-year-old resided disinfected the facility using medical personnel.

Tanzania has confirmed at least 480 coronavirus of cases and 16 deaths.

It has, however, not restricted movement of citizens yet but large public gatherings have been banned and schools and universities closed.

Markets remain open likewise churches and mosques as President John Magufuli claims the coronavirus cannot harm the bodies of worshippers.

Poor handling of pandemic

His government’s handling of the crisis has been criticised by the World Health Organisation which is calling for more transparency.

The opposition is now accusing the government of covering up the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic.

It had claimed the three MPs reported dead had died from Covid-19.

Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of the main opposition Chadema party in a statement on Friday Mbowe said “We regret to continue receiving the deaths of MPs and other Tanzanians caused by the Covid-19 infections,”

Mbowe said called on the Parliament to suspend business for at least 21 days and test all MPs, parliament staff and their families.

“We believe more strict measures are needed to protect the lawmakers as well as the wider Tanzanians. As the authorities are yet to make decisions, we want our MPs to be safe by immediately isolating,” he added.

Mbowe later told DW that “We see people dying and their burials are supervised by the government under strict conditions, but yet [they] are not telling us they died of coronavirus.”

He added that “There is no transparency and when people have no information, you provide room for rumors.”

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa told a virtual news conference that “We are observing countries taking an approach to responding at different speeds,” when asked how worried she is about the situation in Tanzania.

“Through our country team and working with technical partners on the ground, we are continuing to advise the government in order to have those policy decisions taken based on data that will enable the government to get on top of the situation,” she said.

 

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