Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli is dead

The Tanzanian president had been rumoured to be ill with the coronavirus.

Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has died at the age of 61, the government announced on Wednesday.

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Tanzania vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan said that Magufuli had died of heart complications.

Hassan said that Magufuli once nicknamed “the bulldozer” was hospitalised on March 6 at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute.

But speculation had been rife about Magufuli’s possible infection with the coronavirus.

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, Magufuli had downplayed the severity of the virus.

At one point, he made fun of the country’s coronavirus testing facilities, saying he had secretly sent samples of papaya and goat and that they came out positive.

Though he never provided proof of that claim, he warned that those results could mean that people were getting false positive results.

Shortly afterward, Tanzania stopped sharing updates on the number of people infected and killed due to COVID-19.

The country’s last coronavirus figures were given in May last year. At that time, 509 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus and 29 had died.

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