Is COVID -19 Killing People in Huge Numbers in Burundi?

A publication by NileDaily.com with headline “Outgoing President And His Mother Dead, President Elect And Speaker In ICU” is being shared across Sub-Saharan Africa in including Ghana by some influential persons in Ghana.

The publication makes a number of claims including one that says there are no COVID-19 tests done in Burundi and that people are dying in large numbers of the virus in Burundi.

“No single test for COVID-19 has been carried out in Burundi. Reports indicate that people are dying in large numbers and there is no single preparation on how to handle the pandemic,” excerpts of the report said.

Fact-checkghana.com verified this claim and found it to be false.

Explanation: Burundi, a country of 11 million people, is one of the 54 African countries that have confirmed cases of COVID-19 according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The country announced its first case on 1st April, 2020.

The country has been a major focal point for analysts concerning the management of COVID-19 due to the posturing of its late president and his decision to dismiss World Health Organization officials from his country on May 14, 2020.

The president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is noted to have also allowed political rallies and the holding of the country’s presidential polls on May 20 against concerns by experts.

To verify the claim, we conducted a google search to find out if any credible news portal had reported the story. We found none but another blog, Soko Directory which we found to be originator of the story; it published it at 1.am on Thursday June 11, 2020.

On the exact claim of not conducting tests, we found various communiqués from Burundi’s Ministry of Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS between April and June 2020 in which they stated the number of new tests conducted each day of their regular press releases.

Between June 8 to June 10, 2020, 85 COVID-19 tests were conducted and between June 11 and June 13, 97 tests were conducted. A BBC report on June 12 said over 80 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in Burundi. The first case for COVID-19 was confirmed in Burumdi in March 2020, so it is not true that the country has not conducted any tests for the virus.

There samples are tested at the Institut National de Sante Publique (INSP).

On the second claim of people dying in large numbers from the virus, we took the data shared by the Africa CDC and found that as at 0600GMT on June 12, 2020, one person out of the 94 confirmed cases in Burundi at the time had died from COVID-19.

Government information from Burundi’s Health Ministry confirms that is the only death occurred on April 12, 2020.

There are concerns that Burundi might not be transparent enough with the true extent of the Covid-19 problem but the originator of the report has not pointed to independent sources or provided any evidence of the mass deaths it claimed. This in no way suggests that large numbers of people are dying from the virus in Burundi. We conclude that the claims are false.

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