Magufuli suspended the head of testing at Tanzania’s national health laboratory in response to the alleged errors on Monday, one day after revealing that he had flooded the lab with a variety of samples from things the virus shouldn’t be able to infect.
Magufuli, who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, claimed on Sunday that he put human names and ages on several samples taken from non-human subjects. He says the lab came back with positive test results for a papaya, a quail and a goat — three things that have never been linked to the virus in the past.
Magufuli claimed that there is a “dirty game” going on at the laboratory, and announced that his security forces would be investigating the test kits. He did not say where the lab got its kits.
The supposed false positives suggest that Tanzania’s infection numbers might not be accurate, Magufuli said. He also stoked concerns about accepting foreign aid.
“There is something happening,” Magufuli said. “I said before we should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation.”
He also claimed that he was sending a plane to collect a bit of foreign aid from Madagascar’s president, who has been touting a bogus herbal remedy for the virus.
“The medicine will be brought in the country so that Tanzanians, too, can benefit,” he said.
The country hasn’t reported any new data on COVID-19 infections since Sunday, when the numbers stood at 480 cases and 17 deaths. That’s likely because the country’s testing lab is now under investigation.
Tanzania has been accused of politicizing virus data in the past. Last fall, for example, it refused to share samples collected for Ebola testing with the international community amid a broader outbreak in Africa. Tanzania’s officials claimed there was a plot to show the country in a “bad light” at the time. (GLOBAL NEWS)