Sixty nuns and 25 priests have died in Tanzania after showing symptoms of coronavirus.
The Catholic Church is now calling on Tanzanians to take the disease more seriously.
But Father Charles Kitima, secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, said at a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the deaths have occurred in the last two months.
“It is upon every one of us to make sure that we take all the required precautions and protect ourselves and others, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.”
The Catholic church has been outspoken about coronavirus. Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world not to publish its virus data. It has not published any data since April last year.
President John Magufuli has down played down the virus, and it was only recently that he advised his countrymen to wear masks. Meanwhile, the health minister says there are no plans to vaccinate.
Fr Kitima said the church could not say whether the deaths of the clergy had been caused by coronavirus as they had not been tested, though they had all shown signs of Covid-19, including “respiratory challenges”.
“People are not tested. That’s a big challenge. The church has about 500 health centres across the country but we are not allowed to test and we don’t have the equipment to do so,” he is quoted by the BBC as saying.
This is the second time this year that the church has spoken out about the threat of the pandemic in the country, saying in January it had noticed a spike in deaths in its parishes.
In recent past, several high ranking Tanzanian officials have died after exhibiting signs of Covid infections.
-Additional info from the BBC