The Central African state of Equatorial Guinea has told the WHO’s representative to leave, accusing her of “falsifying” the country’s tally of coronavirus cases, according to the government and the UN health agency.
In a document dated May 26 seen by AFP on Tuesday, the foreign ministry asked the World Health Organization’s regional office in Africa “to end the duties” of its representative in Equatorial Guinea, Dr. Triphonie Nkurunziza, “and immediately oversee her departure from Malabo.”
Prime Minister Pascual Obama Asue, appearing at the Senate last Friday, accused Nkurunziza of “falsifying the data of people contaminated” by COVID-19.
“We don’t have a problem with the WHO, we have a problem with the WHO’s representative in Malabo,” he said in remarks broadcast on state television.
A source at the UN office in Malabo, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the government’s request but declined to go into details.
“The government has asked her to go, we have received a document — she is accused of falsifying COVID-19 figures,” the source said.
However, Dr. Nkurunziza is still in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s island capital, as there are no flights enabling her to leave, the source said.
Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich coastal state that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled with an iron fist for 40 years.
The authorities say that as of June 1, there were 1,306 recorded cases of coronavirus, 12 of them fatalities, in a population of 1.3 million.
The official tally used to be updated daily, but this practice stopped on April 28, and the update is now being published only from time to time.
Figures put forward by the WHO have sometimes been somewhat higher than the national tally, although both tolls are the same right now.