Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli, is the latest of the four African presidents rushing to Madagascar to import a herbal remedy that has been advertised as a cure for coronavirus.
Speaking on TV, Mr Magufuli said that he was already in contact with the government of Madagascar and would dispatch an aircraft to the island nation to collect the medicine.
“I am communicating with Madagascar, and they have already written a letter saying they have discovered some medicine. We will dispatch a flight to bring the medicine so that Tanzanians can also benefit. So, as the government, we are working day and night,” he said.
The Tanzanian president is widely criticised for his reaction towards the Covid-19 pandemic.
He is encouraging the public to continue gathering in places of worship, while much of the world has faced a lockdown.
Tanzania’s delay in enforcing stricter measures to prevent further spread of coronavirus in the country could have led to the spike in positive cases, according to the WHO.
The country has 480 confirmed cases of coronavirus but Mr Magufuli said that may be exaggerated and that he doubted the credibility of the national laboratory.
He said that he had secretly had some animals and fruits tested at the laboratory and that a papaya (paw-paw), a quail and a goat returned positive samples.
“That means there is possibility for technical errors or these imported reagents have issues,” he said, without divulging the details.
Congo – Brazzaville’s President, Mr Denis Sassou Nguesso, has also promised to import the herbal tonic for the country that has 229 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Madagascar’s President, Mr Andry Rajoelina.
Mr Rajoelina tweeted that the special envoy to Equatorial – Guinea also picked a shipment of the herbal remedy.
With Madagascar having 135 confirmed cases of Covid-19, Mr Rajoelina said the herbal medicine is produced from the Artemisia plant that is also used in treating malaria.
Madagascar’s chief of staff, Mr Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro, said the country also delivered the shipment to Guinea Bissau on Saturday.
He told the BBC that the drink that was launched as Covid-Organics or CVO was being marketed after being tested on fewer than 20 people over a period of three weeks.
On Saturday last week, Madagascar’s president launched the herbal tonic at Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) in the presence of ministers, diplomats and journalists.