Tanzania’s Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu has suspended two officials of the National Health Laboratory a day after President John Magufuli said the kits being used to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus are faulty.
In a statement seen by The EastAfrican on Monday, National Health Laboratory director Nyambura Moremi and head of quality assurance Jacob Lusekelo were suspended with immediate effect.
Ms Mwalimu on Sunday also formed a special committee of nine experts to conduct an investigation over the concerns raised by the President.
On Sunday, President Magufuli said the test kits were giving positive results on non-human samples.
The President, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, cast doubts over coronavirus results after the number of confirmed cases jumped to 480 on April 29.
In his speech, he said there were signs of sabotage and some people could have been compromised within the national lab as random non-human samples from animals and fruits tested positive for Covid-19.
The non-human samples were taken from a goat, a pawpaw, oil, sheep and a jackfruit, and given human names before being submitted to the laboratory. The lab technicians were unaware that the samples were not from humans. Only the samples from the sheep and oil came out negative for Covid-19.
The latest update on coronavirus infections shows that cases in Tanzania increased to 480, making it the country with the highest number of cases in East Africa at the time. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the new tally on April 29, up from 284 just a week before.