Tanzania president questions about coronavirus kits after animal test POSITIVE

May 8, 2020

President Magufuli says tests were found to be faulty after goat, sheep and pawpaw samples test positive for COVID-19.

The president said he had instructed Tanzanian security forces to see the standard of the kits [File: Sadi Said/Reuters]

Tanzania's President John Magufuli has dismissed imported coronavirus testing kits as faulty, saying they returned positive results on samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw.

Magufuli made the remarks during an occasion in Chato in northwestern Tanzania on Sunday. He said there have been "technical errors" with the tests.

The president, whose government has already drawn criticism for being secretive about the coronavirus outbreak and has previously asked Tanzanians to wish the coronavirus away, said he had instructed Tanzanian security forces to see the standard of the kits.

They had randomly obtained several non-human samples, including from a pawpaw, a goat and a sheep, but had assigned them human names and ages.

These samples were then submitted to Tanzania's laboratory to check for the coronavirus, with the lab technicians left deliberately unaware of their origins.

Samples from the pawpaw and therefore the goat tested positive for COVID-19, the president said, adding this meant it had been likely that some people were being tested positive when, in fact, they weren't infected by the coronavirus.

"There are some things happening. I said before we should always not accept that each aid is supposed to be good for this nation," Magufuli said, adding the kits should be investigated.

On Saturday, Magufuli announced that he had placed an order for a herbal treatment for the coronavirus touted by the president of Madagascar.

"I have already written to Madagascar's president and that we will soon dispatch a plane to fetch the drugs in order that Tanzania also can enjoy it," he said.

The herbal remedy, called "Covid Organics" and ready by the Malagasy Institute for Applied Research, is formed out of Artemisia, a plant cultivated on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

Despite a scarcity of scientific evidence, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar claimed that the remedy has already cured some Madagascans of COVID-19. Children returning to high school are required to require it.