News & Politics

President of Tanzania Fires Head of COVID-19 Testing After Goat and Pawpaw Fruit Test Positive for the Virus

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 file photo, presidential candidate John Magufuli of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, speaks at an election rally in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Tanzania’s election commission declared Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 that John Pombe Magufuli of the ruling party was the winner of the country’s presidential election. (AP Photo/Khalfan Said, File)

Somebody in Tanzania had a bad feeling about the accuracy of their Chinese virus testing and sent in samples from a pawpaw fruit and a goat for evaluation. They both came back positive, along with several other non-human samples. As a result, the president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, announced that the testing for COVID-19 was compromised and ordered investigations and firings. Reuters reported,

Magufuli said on Sunday the imported test kits were faulty as they had returned positive results on a goat and a pawpaw — among several non-human samples submitted for testing, with technicians left deliberately unaware of their origins.

He did not say where the kits had been imported from or why the authorities had been suspicious of the results.

Catherine Sungura, acting head of communications at the ministry of health, said in a statement on Monday the director of the laboratory and its quality assurance manager had been immediately suspended “to pave way for the investigation”.

Sungura said a 10-person committee had been formed to investigate the laboratory’s operations, including its process of collecting and testing samples.

On Sunday, Magufuli also fired the head of the government Medical Stores Department, which is in charge of distributing medical supplies and equipment to government hospitals, but gave no reason.

COVID-19 testing has been fraught with difficulties including the CDC handing out test kits that might have been infected with the virus.

Infection rates in Africa have been lower than in the United States and Europe. Tanzania’s latest reported infections were 480 cases and 18 deaths.

Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter

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