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AU blasts Magufuli over claims of faulty Covid-19 test kits

African Union, which is co-ordinating the continent’s Covid-19 response, has rejected claim by Tanzania president John Magufuli that test kits for the virus are faulty.

AU on Thursday, in a statement, criticised president Magufuli for his approach to dealing with the coronavirus, terming it as lackluster.

The statement comes after Magufuli on Sunday claimed Tanzania’s Covid-19 test kits were defective and that a goat and a pawpaw fruit had returned positive results.

Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, said Tanzania and other African states were using test kits supplied by the Africa CDC in collaboration with the Jack Ma Foundation and met international standards.

“Tanzania is using the same test that everyone is using,” Dr Nkengasong said, noting that it was improbable the tests were faulty.

He went on to say that co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration were crucial if the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic was to be successful in the continent.

“No country in Africa is an island when it comes to dealing with the virus. What is needed is a coherent message right from the leadership of the continent down to the local level,” Dr Nkengasong added.

Tanzania on Monday suspended the director and quality control manager of its national laboratory pending a probe after the alleged faulty results, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Magufuli’s response to the pandemic has received much criticism, as the East African country has implemented few measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Social distancing is hardly practised in Tanzania, where mosques and churches remain open.

The head of state also suggested praying and herbal steam baths could allegedly help prevent infection.

Almost all other African countries release daily reports on the latest Covid-19 tallies on infections, fatalities and recoveries.

Tanzania’s sluggish response has attracted criticism from the country’s opposition, which accused the Magufuli government of being secretive.

By last week, Tanzania had reported 480 coronavirus cases.