ZANZIBAR, 2 February 2021 – Zanzibar’s First Vice-President Seif Sharif Hamad has been hospitalized after testing positive for the new coronavirus.
“I am at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital where I am being treated for COVID-19 and my wife has been isolated at home,” Sharif Hamad said in a text message Monday.
Sharif Hamad is the first high-profile Tanzanian to publicly reveal that he tested positive for the virus since last April when Tanzanian President John Mafufuli declared his country coronavirus-free..
Tanzania does not publish statistics on COVID-19 which are reportedly restricted to only the president and some of his top ministers.
Authorities in Zanzibar, including the archipelago’s acting health minister, Said Mohammed Simai, have maintained that he does not know of the vice-president being hospitalized, according to a report by The Citizen newspaper.
Sharif Hamad’s opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency joined with the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi of Magufuli to form a government of national unity after presidential elections last October.
Last week, Magufuli warned Tanzanians against COVID-19 vaccines developed by Western scientists, reiterating that Tanzania does not plan to impose COVID-19 restrictions or lockdown at anytime.
On Monday, Tanzania’s Health Ministry urged citizens to practice hygiene and use traditional medicine to treat COVID-19.
Tanzanians should improve “our personal hygiene and the use of our local herbs which are not only for COVID-19 but for other diseases as well such as asthma, flu and other novel diseases,” said Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima.
The Government Chemist is working to certify a number of natural local remedies that have met safety standards, Gwajima said, adding that the government has no plan to import any foreign coronavirus vaccines.
Last May, Tanzania received a consignment of the self-proclaimed plant-based COVID-19 “cure” from Madagascar.
The World Health Organization has warned that the efficacy of herbal-based treatment is unproven.
Tanzania has admitted detecting 509 cases with 21 deaths and 183 full recoveries, according to the latest official updates provided on 29 April 2020.