Officials advise caution as the pandemic surge continues.
Catholic officials of Tanzania have announced that 85 religious men and women have died due to suspected COVID-19 outbreaks. The deaths have all come in just the last two months, leading Church leaders to renew the call for precautions.
Africa News reports that more than 25 priests and 60 nuns have succumbed to illness since the new year. Those who have died exhibited coronavirus symptoms, including respiratory problems. Low levels of testing in the East African Country, however, have left these cases unconfirmed.
Fr. Charles Kitima, secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, lamented the lack of testing. COVID-19 tests are key to identifying and quelling the spread of an outbreak. Fr. Kitima said in a statement:
“People are not tested. That’s a big challenge. The church has about 500 health centers across the country but we are not allowed to test and we don’t have the equipment to do so.”
Fr. Kitima went on to encourage the faithful to follow pandemic guidelines. He suggested that special care be taken to protect those at most risk, like the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
Tanzania has done little to monitor the outbreak in their country. Premier Christian reports that the country has published no data on COVID-19 infection rates since May 2020. President John Magufuli is urging citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing, but he has refused to participate in the UN’s COVAX vaccination initiative.
The World Health Organization has requested the Tanzanian government to produce new data. Until they do, their official number of coronavirus cases stands at 509.