İrem GÖL -TDO- The Foreign Ministry ordered the four WHO officers to leave the country by Friday in a letter addressed to the World Health Organization’s Africa headquarters. The expelled officials are the WHO’s representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the country’s coronavirus coordinator Dr Jean Pierre Mulunda Nkata, communicable diseases head Dr Ruhana Mirindi Bisimwa and a laboratory expert in the testing for Covid-19 Professor Daniel Tarzy.

The letter sent by the Foreign Ministry said: “The four officials are declared persona non grata and as such, must leave the territory of Burundi.” No reason for this decision is provided in the letter. A Burundian official speaking on condition of anonymity said: “It is the whole WHO team responsible for supporting Burundi in its response against Covid-19. They are expelled, and the health minister has totally excluded WHO, accusing it of unacceptable interference in its management of the coronavirus.”

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had stated the move of Burundi was unfortunate at a time when greater cooperation was needed to contain the coronavirus in Africa. Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said: “We are in dire need of technical expertise as a continent, which has a very weak health system and fragile infrastructure, where we don’t have the luxury of kicking out WHO.”

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