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More than 25 priests, 60 nuns dead in 60 days, says Tanzanian clergy

Dar es Salaam

The General Secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), Father Charles Kitima, has on Wednesday announced that more than 25 priests, 60 nuns and two elders of the laity died within two months of various causes including respiratory issues.

Father Kitima made the remarks while addressing the media on various issues, especially the Covid-19 epidemic, and urged church members to continue taking precautions against the disease in accordance with Health ministry guidelines.

In a statement, Mr Kitima said the deaths occurred between mid-December and February in different parts of the country.

“Priests are dying and sisters are dying but this number within two months has shocked us especially considering the government has strengthened health systems,” he said.

He said TEC president, Gervas Nyaisonga, had already distributed guidelines to bishops of various dioceses on measures to protect themselves against Covid while providing services.

Death of prominent Tanzanians

This comes amid reports that death has robbed the country of at least 10 prominent persons in a span of three weeks. They include Chief Secretary Amb John Kijazi, Zanzibar First Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad, Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Governor Prof Benno Ndulu and former Finance and Planning permanent secretary Dr Servacius Likwelile among others.

The cause of Mr Hamad’s death was not immediately established but he was earlier hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19.

While speaking at Amb Kijazi’s funeral last month, President John Magufuli appeared to acknowledge that Covid-19 was circulating in Tanzania.

He has previously downplayed the virus and said that prayer had rid the country of the pandemic.

However, while he seemed to accept that the disease was in the country, he ruled out imposing a lockdown and encouraged clerics to continue interceding for the nation to defeat the global pandemic.