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Tanzania installs oxygen production plants as demand increases

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(Adds increase in demand for medical oxygen)

NAIROBI (Reuters) -Tanzania has installed medical oxygen production plants in its biggest national hospitals to serve intensive care ward patients, including those ill with coronavirus, its health ministry said on Friday.

The plants, which can produce medical oxygen to fill 200 cylinders a day, were installed in seven referral hospitals in a World Bank-backed project, the statement said.

The statement noted that demand for medical oxygen had increased following the oubreak of COVID-19 in the country, whose former President John Magufuli was Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptic. Magufuli died in March.

Earlier this month, President Samia Suluhu Hassan shifted the country’s approach to COVID-19 from the controversial stances of her predecessor by announcing she was forming a committee to research whether Tanzania should follow the course taken by the rest of the world against the pandemic.

And on Sunday Hassan said that while that committee continues its work, Tanzanians should follow the public health guidelines for COVID-19 prevention advised globally, namely mask wearing and washing hands. She called on religious leaders to help educate the public on this.

Magufuli died last month after weeks of speculation that he was ill with COVID-19. He urged Tanzanians to shun mask-wearing and denounced vaccines as a Western conspiracy, frustrating the World Health Organization. Tanzania stopped reporting coronavirus data in May 2020.

(Reporting by Nairobi newsroomWriting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Richard Pullin)

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