New State of Emergency and Curfew Imposed in Senegal as COVID Cases Surge

On national television, The Senegalese President said “this is a grave hour. On the recommendation of the medical corps, I decided to declare a state of emergency in two regions initially.”

The Senegalese President Macky Sall, announced on Tuesday, a new state of emergency in response to record cases of coronavirus sweeping parts of the West African nation.

Starting from Wednesday, there will be a night-time curfew enforced in the regions of Dakar (the nation’s capital) and Thies, which the president said are home to more than 90% of the country’s recorded cases. Mask-wearing will be mandatory and large gatherings completely banned.

The new measures and restrictions come six months after a first state of emergency was lifted in an attempt to bolster an economy hit hard by restrictions on movement during a first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to data put together by Reuters, Senegal has reported 19,964 Covid-19 infections and 428 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. On Dec 26, new cases rose by a record 240, and on Dec. 29, seven deaths were reported, the second highest count yet.

On national television, The Senegalese President said “this is a grave hour. On the recommendation of the medical corps, I decided to declare a state of emergency in two regions initially.”

Most of the sub-Saharan countries in Africa, including Senegal, have been spared the large-scale outbreaks which Europe and the United States have been experiencing. Scientists say that is due in part to younger populations and the quick way in which governments moved to contain the virus when it first hit early last year.

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But with the recent surge in many countries in West Africa, concerns that the spread could pick up, are being raised as containment measures ease and cooler weather descends on a region where testing levels are some of the lowest in the world.

This new curfew in Senegal will run from 2100 (GMT) to 0500. It is not yet clear if travels between the regions will be banned, as was the case during last year’s state of emergency.

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