The General Secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), Charles Kitima, on Wednesday said more than 25 priests, 60 nuns and two elders of the laity died within two months of various causes including respiratory issues.
Father Kitima made the remarks while addressing the media on various issues, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged church members to continue taking precautions against the disease in accordance with Health ministry guidelines.
In a statement, Mr Kitima said the deaths occurred between mid-December and February in different parts of the country.
“Priests are dying and sisters are dying but this number within two months has shocked us especially considering the government has strengthened health systems,” he said.
He said TEC president, Gervas Nyaisonga, had already distributed guidelines to Catholic bishops of various dioceses on measures to protect themselves against Covid-19 while providing services.
Although President John Magufuli had declared Tanzania Covid-19 free last June, a recent spate of deaths from “respiratory blockage” in the populace, including top political and government officials — vice-president of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar Seif Shariff Hamad and the president’s chief secretary John Kijazi — has prompted authorities to concede the existence of Covid-19.
The Health ministry has since issued statements warning the public to take precautions against all infectious diseases, and wash hands and wear masks when necessary.
And as the world scrambles to get vaccines against Covid-19, the country said they are not against the vaccines per se, but wary of their long-term effects.