Tanzania’s President has suspended the director of the country’s National Health Laboratory together with its quality manager.
They are to be probed after President John Magufuli announced that the testing procedure in his country had been flawed.
He questioned the credibility of coronavirus testing kits being used by the lab after samples from goat and pawpaw tested positive for the virus.
In his hometown of Chato in north-western Tanzania, Mr Magufuli said on Sunday that officials had randomly obtained several non-human samples, including those from a pawpaw, a goat and a sheep, but had assigned them human names and ages.
These samples were then submitted to Tanzania’s laboratory to test for the coronavirus, with the lab technicians left deliberately unaware of their origins.
“Vehicle oil for instance, labelled Jabir Hamza aged 30-years-old [male], tested negative. We sent a jackfruit sample which we named Sara Samweli, a 45-year-old female – the results were inconclusive.
When we sent a papaya [paw-paw] sample and named it Elizabeth Anne, aged 26 years, that papaya was positive,” Magufuli said.
He said “There is something happening. I said before we should not accept that every aid is meant to be good for this nation.”
The health ministry of Tanzania has said that a committee of 10 people has been formed to investigate the conduct of the laboratory and submit the results by 13 May.
The WHO has been unhappy with the measures being rolled out in Tanzania and the lack of transparency as the rate of infection continues to increase in the country.
Tanzania has 480 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 167 recoveries and 16 deaths.