Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday said universities and sports events would resume next month, after declaring that prayer had spared the country the worst of the coronavirus, even as critics say cases are soaring.
Magufuli has repeatedly played down the gravity of the pandemic, and it has been three weeks since the country released official data on case numbers, which stood at 480 with 16 deaths on April 29.
However while the US embassy has said there was evidence of “exponential growth” and the opposition denounces a dangerous “coverup”, Magufuli is proceeding to open up the East African nation.
“We have decided to reopen universities starting June 1, 2020,” Magufuli said at a political event in the capital Dodoma, adding that a decision on schools would be taken later.
He said sports events would resume on the same date, with spectators required to observe social distancing measures.
“I have not heard any sports person died from the coronavirus and that means sports are not only important for fun but also in the fight against the viral disease,” he said.
The closing of schools and universities, the halting of sports events and flight restrictions were the only measures taken in Tanzania to curb the spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, Tanzania lifted restrictions on flights and said those entering the country would no longer need to undergo mandatory quarantine.