Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has exposed imported coronavirus testing kits as faulty. The African President says tests returned positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw (fruit). Tanzania just suspended the head of its national health laboratory in charge of coronavirus testing, a day after President John Magufuli questioned the accuracy of the tests.
Magufuli, who has consistently downplayed the effect of the virus, said on Sunday he had secretly had animals, fruits and vehicle oil tested at the laboratory. A papaya, a quail and a goat had been found to be positive, according to the president.
He cast doubt on the credibility of laboratory equipment and technicians and questioned official data on the pandemic. The president called for an investigation in what he suspected is a “dirty game” in the laboratory, but did not say where the kits had been imported from.
“The equipment or people may be compromised and sometimes it can be sabotage,” Magufuli said in a speech broadcast live through state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).
Catherine Sungura, acting head of communications at the ministry of health, said in a statement on Monday the director of the laboratory and its quality assurance manager had been immediately suspended “to pave way for the investigation”.
Sungura said a 10-person committee had been formed to investigate the laboratory’s operations, including its process of collecting and testing samples.
COVID-19 infections and deaths reported across Africa have been relatively low compared with the United States, parts of Asia and Europe. But Africa also has extremely low levels of testing, with rates of only about 500 per a million people.
The president also revealed that his government was looking to acquire a COVID-19 medicine from its regional neighbor, Madagascar. The East African country had 480 COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths, the latest update said last week.