‘Eradicating coronavirus with prayer’
Magufuli is one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 sceptics. Last year he said the disease had been eradicated from Tanzania by three days of national prayer. He cast doubt on tests to determine covid-19 discouraged Tanzanians from wearing masks, keeping a distance from others, and the use of vaccines to combat the disease.
Magufuli’s absence is unusual as he is known for frequent public speeches and appearances on state television several times a week.
Opposition politicians raised questions about the president’s health after at least one official close to him died recently.
Magufuli was last seen in public on Feb. 27 at the swearing-in ceremony of his chief of staff.
Exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu, who lost the October presidential election to Magufuli, claimed in a series of tweets last week that the president had been flown to India in critical condition after first being taken to neighboring Kenya for COVID-19 treatment.
Magufuli has been playing down the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, claiming Tanzania had freed itself from the Covid” through prayer.
He also rejected any lockdowns or measures such as mask-wearing.
But he later admitted what he called a “respiratory disease” was still circulating.
Many Tanzanian officials have died in recent weeks, often without the cause of their death being specified.
Among them, the first vice-president of the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, who died in mid-February. His party said he had contracted Covid-19.
Tanzania has not published data on coronavirus since April 2020