He further stated that the test kits were imported from overseas, but refused to specify where.
In order to evaluate the quality of the COVID-19 test kits, security forces in Tanzania obtained non-human samples from a goat, a papaya, a quail and even a sheep. The samples were assigned human names and then shipped off to a laboratory to be tested. Lab technicians who worked on the non-human samples weren't informed about their true origins.
The test results showed that the goat, quail and papaya were found positive for COVID-19, which may have serious implications. According to Magufuli, this means some people could have received positive coronavirus test results despite not actually being infected.
This puts into question the country's actual number of coronavirus cases. As of press time, the country has 509 reported cases of COVID-19, including 21 deaths. However, the actual number of cases could be higher because Tanzania goes days without providing updates.
Magufuli, who initially downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, suspended the head of testing at Tanzania's national health laboratory on May 4, one day after he revealed that the lab had tested the non-human samples, noting that there was a “dirty game” going on at the laboratory.
Hassan Abbas, chief government spokesman of Tanzania, said that the country has formed a team to conduct further investigations on the laboratory that did the tests. They will release the results of their investigations as soon as they are complete. (Related: African coronavirus cases SPIKE by 43 percent – WHO warns that continent could be the “next epicenter” of the pandemic.)
“The equipment or people may be compromised and sometimes it can be sabotage,” said Magufuli in a speech broadcast through the country's state-run news outlet.
Magufuli further cast doubt on the foreign aid Tanzania was receiving, saying that it may not always be “good for this nation” and that they shouldn't accept all of it.
Africa's testing capacity has expanded sharply since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the help of test kits procured from the WHO, the Jack Ma Foundation and other philanthropic organizations.
Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire and founder of the Alibaba Group, has donated thousands of test kits and protective gear to African nations. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said that the Jack Ma Foundation had provided them with a lot of coronavirus test kits.
“We are very instrumental in training, providing training to nearly all countries and providing them with test kits,” said Nkengasong. “We've also in the last couple of weeks and months distributed tests from the Jack Ma Foundation that have been validated and proven to be very, very reliable.”
Nkengasong told journalists that the Africa CDC affirmed that the Tanzanian coronavirus test kits are “working very well.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has also expressed their confidence in the reliability of the test kits.
When questioned regarding the veracity of the coronavirus tests, Matshidiso Moeti, head of WHO Africa, said that the tests procured through their organization and through the donations made by the Jack Ma Foundation were not contaminated with coronavirus.
Losing any trust he had in the WHO and the Africa CDC, Magufuli has stated that he was sending a plane to Madagascar to collect an herbal mix that the country was touting as a cure for COVID-19. The herbal mix has not gone through internationally recognized scientific testing.
President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar has claimed that the herbal cure, known in the country as Covid-Organics, shows results within a week and that it has already cured two people so far.
Magufuli, in a speech, said that he was communicating with Madagascar regarding this COVID-19 cure. “They have got a medicine,” he said. “The medicine will be brought in the country so that Tanzanians, too, can benefit.”
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