Coronavirus: Tanzanian National Health Laboratory boss suspended

The Director of Tanzania’s National Health Laboratory together with his quality manager have been suspended pending an investigation.

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli

The two top officials were suspended after President John Magufuli questioned the credibility of coronavirus testing kits being used by the lab.

In a live broadcast from his hometown of Chato in north-western Tanzania, President Magufuli disclosed that he secretly asked for some randomly collected non-human samples to be tested. These samples were assigned names and ages.

He added that some of the results from the nun-human samples returned as inconclusive while others were negative and the remaining positive.

“Vehicle oil, for instance, labelled Jabir Hamza aged 30-years-old [male], tested negative. We sent a jackfruit sample which we named Sara Samweli, a 45-year-old female - the results were inconclusive. When we sent a papaya (paw-paw) sample and named it Elizabeth Anne, aged 26 years, that papaya was positive.”

Mr Magufui said the samples from a bird and a goat both tested positive, while one from a rabbit was indeterminate.

Meanwhile, the health minister has formed a 10-member committee to probe the operations of the laboratory and submit the results by May 13.

However, testing for coronavirus will still go on the laboratory.

Many have criticized Tanzania’s approach to fighting coronavirus saying it is not strict enough and is shrouded in secrecy.

The government has denied these allegations saying it carefully follows the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The country has recorded 480 cases of coronavirus with 167 recoveries and 16 deaths. This is according to the most recent health ministry figures, which were published last week.

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