Tanzania’s Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima has said the East Africa nation has no plans to import Covid-19 vaccines at a time when there are fears that infections are rising.

Her comment comes a week after President John Magufuli warned health officials against acquiring coronavirus vaccines, saying – without giving evidence – that they could harm the population.

“For now the government has no plans to receive the Covid vaccine being distributed in other countries,” Dr Gwajima said.

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Tanzania to consider inoculating its population.

Like the president, the minister urged Tanzanians to take precautions and to use traditional medicine, including steam inhalation, as a way of dealing with coronavirus.

A blogger has shared photos of Dr Gwajima and other officials inhaling steam and taking a herbal concoction:

Dr Gwajima also warned media outlets not to report unofficial information on coronavirus or any disease.

Her warning comes after the Catholic Church said last week that it had observed an increase in requiem masses – blaming funerals on a spike in coronavirus infections.

Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world not to publish any data on coronavirus cases – last doing so in May.

BBC health reporters say vaccines are rigorously tested in trials involving thousands of people before being assessed by regulators, who look at all the data on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines before approving them for use on a wider population with the aim of saving lives.

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