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Tanzanian Archbishop Urges Factual, Expert COVID-19 Information, Cautions against Fear

Archbishop Gervais Nyaisonga of Tanzania’s Mbeya Archdiocese

The Archbishop of Tanzania's Mbeya Archdiocese is advocating for factual information about COVID-19 in the East African nation.

In his Video message earlier this week, Archbishop Gervais Nyaisonga cautions against fear in the face of COVID-19 and encourages adherence to "advice given by experts."

“Let us seek the truth, let us follow what is factual,” Archbishop Nyaisonga says in his Tuesday, February 16 message. 

He adds, “It is the responsibility of each individual to accept the truth about this virus and to live according to the advice given by experts and those who know how to control the disease.”

The Tanzanian Archbishop urges the people of God in the East African country to take necessary precautions to prevent contagion and the spread of the disease instead of living in fear.

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“Tanzanians, we are encouraged not to be enslaved by fear. Fear is a weapon that can weaken a person,” says the Local Ordinary of Mbeya who doubles as the President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC).

According to local media reports, Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli has denied the prevalence of COVID-19 in the country, crediting the nation’s “coronavirus status” to the power of God. 

However, on February 10, the US Embassy in the country reported a surge of COVID-19 cases since January 2021

On Wednesday, February 17 Zanzibar’s first Vice President, Seif Hamad passed on while undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the Muhimbili Hospital in Tanzania’s largest city and former capital, Dar-es-Salaam. 

Hamad declared his coronavirus positive status at the beginning of this month, becoming “the first person to publicly reveal a COVID-19 status since April last year when President John Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free,” according to The EastAfrican.

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Last month, Catholic Bishops in the country called for caution amid the second wave of COVID-19 in various countries saying Tanzania “is not an island.”

“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,” said the members of TEC. 

In the February 16 message published by TEC, Archbishop Nyaisonga notes that some Tanzanians are no longer cautious with COVID-19. 

“Since we have been so accustomed to hearing about the coronavirus, there are people who are no longer afraid of it,” the 54-year-old Tanzanian Archbishop says and adds, “If we see other people not taking precautions against the virus, let us politely remind them that it is everyone's duty to protect the country.”

He goes on to urge the people of God in the country to pray for God's protection saying, “Let us not stop praying. God has been listening to us. May we ask Him to fill us with wisdom to understand the message we receive from our experts.” 

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“From God, we will find more strength to do that which is our duty to avoid this disease,” Archbishop Nyaisonga says.