Tanzania’s president John Pombe Magufuli has banned face masks, in what seems to be a screenshot of a tweet from his verified account, posted on Facebook on 25 May.
It reads, in Kiswahili: “Ndugu zangu watanzania kuanzia leo tarehe 24/05/2020 ni marufuku kwa mtanzania yeyote kuvaa barakoa. Watalii wameanza kuja sio vizuri wakute tumevaa haya madude ya ajabu usoni kitendo ambacho kitawafanya wawe na hofu kuwa nchi yetu ina ugonjwa wa Corona. Tumshukuru Mungu Corona imekwisha.”
This translates as: “Fellow Tanzanians, beginning today 24/05/2020, it is prohibited for any Tanzanian to wear a face mask. Tourists have started arriving, and it is not good for them to find us wearing these strange things on our faces, an act that will make them fear that our country has coronavirus. Let’s thank God coronavirus is finished.”
The article claims Magufuli said in a “recent communique” that face masks would kill more people than Covid-19 and “any one found putting on a face Mask will be arrested and jailed for 2 years”.
Has the Tanzanian president really banned the wearing of face masks?
‘Ignore such claims’
The tweet can’t be found on Magufuli’s official Twitter account. And government spokesperson Msemaji Mkuu wa Serikali has urged the public to disregard the reports and follow advice from health experts.
He posted the screenshot on Twitter with “FAKE” stamped across, and tweeted: “Famba, ipuuzwe, tuendelee kuzingatia ushauri wa wataalamu wetu makini wa afya huku tukijilinda na kuwalinda pia wageni wetu kutoka nchi mbalimbali duniani ambao nasisitiza tena wameanza kumiminika kuja hapa nchini.”
This translates as: “Ignore such claims. Let’s continue to observe the advice given by our health specialists by protecting ourselves and our visitors from various countries around the world who, as I emphasise again, have started flowing into our country.”
Wear face masks, says health ministry
The directive asks teachers, students and school staff to wear face masks and wash their hands with running water, or use alcohol-based sanitisers.
Parents are also asked to give their children face masks before school. – Grace Gichuhi
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