Tanzania’s COVID-denying president reportedly has virus

President John Magufuli (Photo: DW)

Tanzania’s COVID-denying president, John Magufuli, has been afflicted with the virus, and is currently in India seeking treatment.

This is the news being relayed from the country’s main opposition leader, Tundu Lissu. Lissu said he received information from medical and security sources in Kenya. They told him that the president was transferred from a hospital in Kenya to India and was in a coma. But he did not provide evidence.

Lissu told the news agency Reuters that Magufuli was flown to the Nairobi Hospital at the start of this week and then to an unknown destination in India. “He’s comatose since yesterday morning,” he said.

Magufuli has notoriously been downplaying the coronavirus; referring to it as simply “respiratory disease”, pushing local remedies as treatment, and saying that God would protect Tanzanians.

He has mocked coronavirus tests, denounced vaccines as part of a Western conspiracy to take Africa’s wealth, and opposed mask-wearing and social distancing.

According to Tanzania’s constitution, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan would take over for the rest of the five-year term if the president is unable to discharge duties.