Tanzania receives Madagascar's anti-virus potion

People walk on a pedestrian bridge without adhering to social distancing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in April 2020 (AFP Photo/Ericky BONIPHACE)
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Dar es Salaam (AFP) - Tanzania on Friday received its first shipment of a herbal concoction that Madagascar's government claims cures COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Several African nations have expressed interest in the purported remedy, which is known as Covid-Organics.

"Tanzania today received the support of coronavirus medicine from Madagascar," government spokesman Hassan Abas said on Twitter.

The drink is derived from artemisia -- a plant with proven efficacy in malaria treatment -- and other indigenous herbs.

But the World Health Organization on Thursday warned against "adopting a product that has not been taken through tests to see its efficacy", and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has also said it should be "tested rigorously".

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has come under fire for repeatedly playing down the gravity of the coronavirus.

After Magufuli on April 22 accused the health ministry of stoking panic by releasing new figures, the country has only updated its numbers once, on April 29, at which date it had recorded 480 cases.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said Friday the government would resume giving regular updates in a few days after completing improvements to the country's laboratory infrastructure.

"Coronavirus is there and it will continue for a couple of months. We have patients and others are dying," Mwalimu said.

"We need to learn how to live with it by taking precautionary measures."