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Tanzania coronavirus kits questioned after goat and papaya test positive

Sky News logo Sky News 04/05/2020

The accuracy of coronavirus tests used in Tanzania has been questioned by the country's president after a goat and a papaya both tested positive for the disease.

a close up of a cow: Samples from a goat, a papaya and a sheep were submitted to Tanzania's testing lab © Getty Samples from a goat, a papaya and a sheep were submitted to Tanzania's testing lab

President John Magufuli, whose government has already faced criticism over its handling of coronavirus outbreak and has previously asked people to pray the disease away, said the kits had "technical errors".

He said the COVID-19 tests had been imported from abroad, although he did not give further details.

The president claimed he asked security forces to check the quality of the kits and that they randomly obtained several non-human samples, including from a papaya, a goat and a sheep, but had assigned them human names and ages.

John Magufuli wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: 'We should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation,' said President Magufuli © Getty 'We should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation,' said President Magufuli

The samples were then submitted to Tanzania's laboratory to test for the coronavirus, with the lab technicians deliberately not made aware of their origins.

Mr Magufuli said the return of positive results on the goat and papaya indicated some people were testing positive despite not having the virus.

"There is something happening. I said before we should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation," he said, adding that the kits should be investigated.

Burley and Hancock © Sky News Screen Grab Burley and Hancock

Tanzania had recorded 480 cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths as of Sunday.

However, unlike most other African countries, its government sometimes goes for days without offering updates - with officials having last done so on Wednesday,

Mr Magufuli also said he was sending a plane to collect a herbal cure being promoted by Madagascar's president.

The mix has not yet undergone internationally recognised scientific testing.

"I'm communicating with Madagascar," he said.

"They have got a medicine. We will send a flight there and the medicine will be brought in the country so that Tanzanians too can benefit."

COVID-19 infections and deaths reported across Africa have been relatively low compared with the Europe, the US and parts of Asia although the continent has extremely low levels of testing - with rates of only around 500 per million people.

This week Kay Burley will be hosting a live Q&A with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. You can put your questions to Mr Hancock about the coronavirus and its impact on your life live on Sky News.

Email us your questions - or you can record a video clip of your question on your phone - and send it to AskTheHealthSecretary@sky.uk

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