After a newspaper falsely reported that he had died, the American writer Mark Twain famously responded, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
The Finance Minister of Tanzania summoned a press conference on Wednesday to announce something similar after rumours began to circulate that he had died of Covid-19 after being hospitalised for several days.
The conference took place outside a hospital in the capital Dodoma where minister Philip Mpango was being treated, and footage of the event shows him coughing and spluttering his way through the announcement.
Despite Mpango’s defense of the state of his health, the minister was visibly ill. His voice trembled, he struggled to speak, and at one point he erupted into a coughing fit.
He was reportedly taken off a ventilator so that he could make this announcement.
To make matters worse, he and the two men sitting close beside him were not wearing masks.
“I came to the hospital with my oxygen cylinder but in the last three days I did not use it because my health has improved,” he said.
Mpango then sent his condolences to those in his country who had recently died of “pneumonia” and “respiratory issues”.
However, the country’s opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, wasn’t convinced, writing on Twitter “Has the intelligence of our leaders reached this level? Who allowed this patient to cough on people, instead of being in hospital for treatment or bed rest?”
The Tanzanian government has come under fire for downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus. – and this alarming clip makes it easy to see why.
The country’s president, John Magafuli, has previously insisted that Tanzania has managed to steer clear of the virus, because the country’s prayers have helped to eliminate it.
Video source: @KalekyeMoments