Tanzania President John Magufuli, who is an avowed coronavirus sceptic, is out of public view for nearly two weeks. Due to his absence in recent days, there has been speculation that he is receiving medical treatment abroad.
Earlier, Kenya's 'The Nation' newspaper reported that an African leader who had not been seen in public for nearly two weeks was being treated for COVID-19 and was on a ventilator at Nairobi Hospital, a private hospital in the Kenyan capital. The newspaper cited unidentified political and diplomatic sources for the report and did not identify the African leader. However, Kenya’s Foreign Ministry and Nairobi Hospital both said they had no information to disclose.
Now, Tanzania’s main Opposition leader Tundu Lissu who lost last year’s election to Magufuli, has said that the President has been transferred from a hospital in Kenya to India.
Speaking to news agency Reuters, Lissu said that Magufuli was flown to Kenya’s Nairobi Hospital at the start of this week and then on to an unknown destination in India. “He’s comatose since yesterday (Wednesday) morning,” he said.
Lissu also took to Twitter and gave the "lastest update" on Magufuli's health. He wrote: "The Man Who Declared Victory Over Corona “was transferred to India this afternoon.” Kenyans don’t want the embarrassment “if the worst happens in Kenya.” His COVID denialism in tatters, his prayer-over-science folly has turned into a deadly boomerang!"
According to an Al Jazeera report, India’s foreign ministry and its high commission in Nairobi did not comment.
For the uninitiated, Magufuli had declared that Tanzania is "coronavirus-free" in June last year. "The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God," he said. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) had expressed concerns over the government's strategy on COVID-19.
Magufuli's government had also stopped publishing COVID-19 data. The last date Tanzania declared its COVID-19 numbers was on April 29, 2020. He had repeatedly said that the health crisis has been exaggerated and urged people to attend services in churches and mosques, saying that prayers "can vanquish" the virus.