The press statement below has been shared online multiple times with claims that Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli, has banned the use of face masks and ordered re-opening of schools.
The statement, which is in Swahili as translated by Google, reads:
President of The Republic of Tanzania Dr John Pombe Magufuli has today on 24th May, 2020 banned the use of face masks by Tanzanians as the usage has caused fear and panic to Tanzanians leading to some closing down their businesses. His Excellency The President has also allowed normal resumption of public transport as well as normal resumption of schools. We thank God for the defeat against Corona, lets continue to wash hands to observe hygiene, Bye Corona.
According to the latest available data on COVID-19, there have been 509 confirmed cases, 21 deaths and 183 recoveries in Tanzania (keep tabs on updated data from around the world using our COVID-19 tracking page). These figures have however not been without suspicion and controversy, with President Magufuli being accused of covering up the extent of the outbreak and repeatedly downplaying it.
Tanzania’s opposition, Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), demanded the truth about the country’s coronavirus infections after going for two weeks without an update.
The United States embassy raised alarm over “ overwhelmed hospitals” in the country, with doctors in the country reporting concerns that there is no transparency in updating the status of the pandemic in the country.
The press statement in circulation bears the name of Gerson Msigwa, who is the director of presidential communication of Tanzania.
A Twitter search of his official page shows that he dismissed the circular, stating that the news is fake and misleading.
Related searches on the purported ban show that Tanzania’s government spokesperson also dismissed the claim as fake and advised the public to observe the instructions they have been given to fight COVID-19 in order to protect themselves and foreigners going into the country.
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. pic.twitter.com/PUAgu8UvQW
— Msemaji Mkuu wa Serikali (@TZMsemajiMkuu) May 25, 2020
At an event at his official residence on May 21 in Dodoma, President Magufuli said that the coronavirus is still present and urged his people to continue taking precautions even if the numbers of COVID-19 cases have decreased.
On the opening of schools, President Magufuli announced that all universities and Form 6 students preparing for their final high school examinations were to resume their studies from yesterday, June 1.
There has been no report of the ban by any reliable mainstream media outlet and there was no press statement issued in Tanzania on May 24. The last official press statement was issued was on May 21; announcing the government’s decision to open colleges, form six, sports and tourism.
The press statement in circulation is a fake, making the claims therein, FALSE.