NAIROBI, Kenya

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Monday shared COVID-19 statistics of her country after more than a year. 

In her maiden televised address since becoming Tanzania’s first female president, Hassan said 70 patients in the country were hospitalized in critical condition, noting that 70 others had been admitted to hospitals and placed on ventilators.

It marked the first time Tanzania was sharing its COVID-19 statistics since May 2020, despite international pressure to do so.

Tanzania’s previous president, John Magufuli, died in March this year. Magufuli’s death came after two weeks of speculation about his health on suspicion of contracting COVID-19.

He had declared COVID-19 defeated in the country, attributing it to God’s help, even when the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the government to cooperate and shed light on its COVID-19 figures.

Magufuli’s administration had denied the existence of COVID-19 in Tanzania.

According to Tanzania’s The Citizen news website, Hassan in her statement Monday said that as soon as she took over the government after Magufuli’s death, “she immediately embarked on ways of adopting the globally accepted measures of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, including adopting vaccines.”

She announced that Tanzania will spend $470 million to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and ensure that businesses affected by the pandemic are bailed out of the situations they are in.

Hassan also announced that Tanzania had registered for the COVAX program and plans to immunize its population soon.

“We have $470 million to order vaccines and equipment to use in the fight against the coronavirus,” she said, without disclosing the type of vaccine Tanzania is planning to buy.

Hassan assumed office for the remaining period of Magufuli’s five-year term according to the country’s laws.

Magufuli had previously urged Tanzanians not to observe measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, declaring the disease eradicated from his country.

He urged Tanzanians not to seek COVID-19 vaccines but to observe religious rituals and inhale herbal-infused steam to protect themselves from disease, including the coronavirus.

His administration also refused to share data on COVID-19 infections since May 2020, prompting countries across the globe to warn their nationals against travelling to Tanzania, citing a high risk of contracting the disease.

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