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Bishops in Tanzania Caution against New COVID-19 Wave, Urge Public to “take precautions”

Logo of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC)

Months after Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli declared the nation free of COVID-19, Catholic Bishops in the East African nation have urged caution amid a new COVID-19 wave in several countries saying “is not an island.”

In their Tuesday, January 26 statement obtained by ACI Africa, members of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) urge Tanzanians to “take precautions.”

“There is a new wave of coronavirus infections and several countries have confirmed that they are going through a difficult period in the spread of the coronavirus and the occurrence of fatalities,” TEC members say.

They add, “Our country is not an island ...We must defend ourselves, take precautions, and cry out to God with all our might so that this scourge will not overtake us.”

The Bishops call on Tanzanians to double their efforts in the fight against the virus “using all the spiritual, physical, scientific and social arms.”

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“Let us not stop praying, maintaining social distance, washing and sanitising our hands, taking the necessary action when we see signs of illness and avoid congestion which can be dangerous,” they add.

In the last year, President Magufuli declared the country free of COVID-19, crediting the nation’s status to the power of God. 

The Tanzanian Head of State also downplayed the wearing of face masks and social distancing in the East African nation.

Since 29 April 2020, the government has not made public any reports of COVID-19 cases. At the time, there were 509 cases and 21 fatalities. 

TEC members’ collective statement on the coronavirus comes a day after Archbishop Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi of the country’s Dar es Salaam Archdiocese said the fight against COVID-19 “is not over.”

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“Let us pray for ourselves especially as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic; it is not over; COVID-19 still exists,” Archbishop Ruwa'ichi said January 25, adding, “Let us not be careless.”

He urged Tanzanians to be vigilant and adhere to COVID-19 measures that were issued in the country last year. 

“The practice of washing our hands with running water and soap should continue. Many have stopped it, but let us return to it. We must also return to the culture of wearing masks, that we completely stopped,” he said. 

The Tanzanian Archbishop added, “Let us love ourselves, take care of ourselves, and cooperate with God in protecting and keeping us safe.”