Magufuli changes tune on COVID-19; Urges Tanzanians to wear face mask as pandemic bites hard

Magufuli, Tanzania’s president gives in to reality on the ground

By Jackson Otukho, Tanzanian journalist

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli is seemingly changing tune after continuously downplaying the existence and presence of COVID-19 in the country since it emerged.

The head of state acknowledged the existence of the disease urging members of the public to take the virus’ preventive measures including wearing facemasks.

Magufuli style of greeting each other

Speaking on Sunday, February 21, Magufuli said the government has not prevented people from wearing masks, however, urging his countrymen to don masks manufactured locally.

“I have not said people should not wear facemasks, don’t misquote me, however, some facemasks are substandard. If you have to wear them, please consider those locally made.

“Most people who have been affected are in urban areas. We will defeat this virus by faith,” Magufuli said.


The Chama Cha Mapinguzi (CCM) leader had in June 2020, declared the East African country COVID-19 free after being healed by God.

The turnaround comes barely days after the death of Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the first vice-president of Zanzibar — who succumbed to the disease.

As previously reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) renewed its call to Tanzania to start reporting its daily coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus alert

In a statement dated Saturday, February 20, WHO boss Tedros Adhanom asked the country to commence sharing the disease’s data in the light and scale up public health measures against the deadly virus.

“I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data. I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission and to prepare for vaccination,” Tedros said.

Coronavirus alert

As of Monday, February 22, confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 55 African countries reached 3,829,402, with related deaths at 101,336 while 3,382,176 people have recovered.

South Africa has the most reported cases — 1,503,796 with 49,053 deaths. Other most-affected countries are Morocco (481,155), Tunisia (228,362), Egypt (178,151), Ethiopia (152,806), and Nigeria (152,074).

The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University using statistics from WHO and other international institutions as well as national and regional public health departments.