NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Tanzania’s COVID-denying president is calling on citizens for three days of prayer to defeat unnamed “respiratory diseases” amid warnings that the country is seeing a deadly resurgence in infections.
“Maybe we have wronged God somewhere,” populist President John Magufuli told mourners at a funeral for his chief secretary, John Kijazi, on Friday. “Let us all repent.”
Magufuli has repeatedly claimed that Tanzania, a country of some 60 million people, defeated COVID-19 with God’s help. The government has not updated its number of coronavirus cases since April, and the health ministry has promoted unproven herbal remedies. Magufuli has questioned COVID-19 vaccines without offering evidence.
But the local Catholic church, the U.S. Embassy and others have openly warned of a resurgence in cases. And this week the death of the vice president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, brought widespread attention after his opposition political party said he had COVID-19.