GENEVA, 19 March 2021 – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged Tanzania’s newly-sworn-in President Samia Suluhu Hassan to work with WHO to tackle the new coronavirus.
“I look forward to working with you to keep people safe from COVID-19, end the pandemic and achieve a healthier Tanzania. Together!” the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.
The WHO boss sent his congratulations to Ms. Hassan on her inauguration as Tanzanian president as well as extended condolences for the death Wednesday of John Magufuli.
Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks and some opposition politicians had said he had contracted coronavirus.
Suluhu Hassan blamed Magufuli’s death on heart complications.
Tanzania’s late president gained international notoriety over his unorthodox handling and denialism of the coronavirus pandemic.
A month before Magufuli’s passing, officials at the WHO had urged the east African nation to resume publishing and sharing details of its coronavirus cases.
Tanzania stopped sharing data in May 2020.
Under Magufuli, the Tanzanian government said it had no plan to import vaccines to combat the pandemic, calling instead for fasting and prayers to the Heavens to free Tanzania of the virus.
Magufuli also recommended the use of herbal-infested steam therapy.
The late Tanzanian leader mocked the efficacy of masks, suggesting in the last weeks of his life that imported masks might not only be ineffective but could prove harmful for Tanzanians.
Tanzanian cartoonist Gado – on Twitter @Gaddo – who lives in Kenya, published a political sketch Friday joking that Magufuli’s lack of belief in masks may have followed him to the gates of Heaven.
The sketch shows an angel telling the newly-arrived Magufuli, a devout Catholic Christian: “I’am afraid you can’t be allowed in without a mask!”