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Sensitize Tanzanians about COVID-19, President Urges Catholic Bishops, Religious Leaders

President Samia Suluhu Hassan addresses Religious leaders in Dar es Salaam. Credit: TEC

Tanzanian President has called upon Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders in the East African country to be part of COVID-19 sensitization initiatives, reminding the people of God under their care “of the need to protect ourselves.”

President Samia Suluhu Hassan who was addressing members of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) Friday, June 25 said the involvement of religious leaders in the fight against the pandemic is likely “to prevent mass deaths.”

“Dear Bishops, as you know the world is grappling with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge you and other religious leaders in the country to remind the faithful of the need to protect ourselves against it by adhering to the precautions given by the health professionals,” President Suluhu said during the meeting held at TEC Secretariat in Dar es Salaam.

“Since prevention is better than cure,” she said, “we should use everything that will protect us from this disease to prevent mass deaths.”

Her predecessor, late President John Pombe Magufuli had downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 in the country, declaring the country free of the pandemic in June last year.

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Since 29 April 2020, the President Magufuli-led government did not make public any reports of COVID-19 cases.

In her June 25 address, President Suluhu said there are “signs of the third wave of coronavirus in the East African country.”

“We have COVID-19 patients who have been seen to have this third wave. I ask you religious leaders to speak out loud to your believers in order to avoid mass deaths in the country,” President Suluhu emphasized.

The President also acknowledged the role religious leaders can play saying Church leaders are “very firm in the fight against this disease.”

Members of TEC have previously called on the people of God in the East African nation to take measures against COVID-19. 

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Toward the end of January, Catholic Bishops in Tanzania urged caution amid a new wave of COVID-19 reported in several countries saying the East African nation “is not an island.”

“Our country is not an island,” members of TEC said in their January 26 statement, adding, “We must defend ourselves, take precautions, and cry out to God with all our might so that this scourge will not overtake us.”

They urged Tanzanians to double their efforts in the fight against the virus “using all the spiritual, physical, scientific and social arms.”

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

In March, TEC Secretary General, Fr. Charles Kitima, reported the deaths of at least 25 Priests and 60 members of Religious Orders in the country to COVID-related complications and called on his compatriots to “take precautions” against the disease. 

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“Coronavirus exists. We ask you to take precautions. We need to increase our efforts to protect ourselves. We have a responsibility to protect the elderly and those with underlying health conditions by taking the necessary precautions,” Fr. Kitima said.