Tanzania says US spread ‘false information’ on Covid-19

Tanzania summoned a US envoy in the country to clarify a recent warning about the risk of “exponential growth” of Covid-19 cases in the country.

A fortnight ago, the US embassy said that hospitals in the main city, Dar es Salaam, were “overwhelmed” and that the chance of contracting the virus was “extremely high”.

At a time when official coronavirus updates were scarce in the country, the US embassy’s advisory triggered huge interest from the public, reports the BBC’s Sammy Awami.

It also stirred some controversy, as it did not provide evidence for its claims.

In a meeting on Tuesday, the permanent secretary to the foreign affairs ministry, Wilbert Ibuge, told US diplomat Inmi Patterson, that the embassy’s advisory contained false information and risked causing panic among Tanzanians and visitors.

Mr Ibuge also reminded the American about the importance of issuing verified information, a statement from the ministry in Swahili said.

Tanzania does not have strict lockdown measures and President John Magufuli has repeatedly downplayed the risk of the pandemic. He announced last week that university students and final-year secondary students will return to class on 1 June.