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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.”

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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.

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.

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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Africa’s COVID-19 Death Rate Now Higher Than Global Average – CDC

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The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says the coronavirus (COVID-19) death rate on the continent is now greater than the global average.

John N. Nkengasong – a Cameroonian virologist and Africa CDC’s Director – disclosed this in the health agency’s weekly video briefing shared on Facebook on Thursday.

Describing the situation as “worrying and concerning”, Nkengasong told reporters that the continent’s death rate stands at 2.5% against a global average of 2.2%.

He added that the number of nations recording higher rates is growing.

Earlier during the pandemic, Africa recorded lower death rates than the global average, Nkengasong said.

But in the “second wave” 21 African nations had a death rate above 3%. They are Sudan, Egypt, Liberia, Mali, Chad, Niger, The Gambia, Tunisia, Eswatini, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

Over the past week, cases decreased by nearly 7% compared to the previous week while deaths increased 10%, according to Africa CDC data.

The continent reported 207,000 new cases in the past week, with South Africa alone reporting 100,000 of those new cases, Nkengasong said.

The continent has so far confirmed 3.3 million Covid-19 cases with 2.7 million recoveries and 81,000 deaths.

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South African Minister Dies of COVID-19

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the death of Jackson Mthembu, the Minister in the Presidency of South Africa’s government. Mthembu died of coronavirus (COVID-19), aged 62.

Mthembu, who since 2019 had been serving as the minister in the presidency, was a parliamentarian and long-serving member of the governing African National Congress (ANC).

He had worked his way up the ranks over many years and has been described as a man of integrity.

In his tribute, President Ramaphosa said the 62-year-old was “an exemplary leader” and “life-long champion of democracy”.

He said the deceased “was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the minister’s family, to his colleagues, comrades and many friends.”

Ten days ago, Mthembu shared the news in a tweet that he had abdominal pain and had tested positive for coronavirus. His last tweet on that same day read: “I want to thank the many South Africans who have wished me a speedy recovery. As a people, we must overcome Covid-19.”

Mthembu was the fourth cabinet member to be confirmed infected with the coronavirus.

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COVID-19: Zimbabwe’s First Lady Calls for Prayers, Fasting

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The Zimbabwean First Lady has invited women in the country to join her for three days of prayer and fasting over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Auxillia Mnangagwa stated she would fast and pray from Thursday till Saturday for Zimbabwe to be “spared from further calamity”.

She urged women to ensure their families observe Covid-19 safety guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“We need a plan at the household level for regularly using any means at our disposal to clean and sanitise our homes, to ensure that everyone in the home knows the importance of having a mask and masking up properly, more importantly to organise sharp, safe errands for our requirements to get going whilst enforcing the family to stay at home,” she said in a statement.

Zimbabwe has lost 879 people to coronavirus, including top government officials with the most recent death being that of Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo.

On Wednesday, January 20, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Moyo, died after contracting COVID-19.

Moyo, a former army general who announced the military coup that led to the removal of the late long-serving leader Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Moyo died at a local hospital early on Wednesday,.

Moyo was one of several generals who, after helping plot the coup, were rewarded with senior positions in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet and the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Another cabinet minister, retired general and agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, died of the virus in July 2020.

Zimbabwe has suffered a surge in COVID-19 infections, with more than half of the 28,675 total cases and 825 deaths being recorded since New Year’s Day.

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