Teachers undergo Covid-19 test as schools reopen in Benin

Anselme Amoussou, general secretary of one of the country’s largest labour organisation, said testing remained “insufficient”.
Schoolchildren from Avrankou-Houeze school attend a BloLab training in a container with the founder of this non-profit group Medard Agbayazon at Avrankou city hall, in Avrankou, south of Benin, on January 18, 2019. – Designed by BloLab, a non-profit group, the 13-metre (43-foot) trailer is powered by 12 solar panels and equipped with enough laptops to give students in the countryside a chance to familiarise themselves with computers, which most families cannot afford. Indeed, Benin’s internet penetration rate is just 42.2 percent, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic and Postal Communication said in a report published last year. (Photo by Yanick Folly / AFP)

The Republic of Benin on Saturday started conducting mass coronavirus testing of teachers ahead of the reopening of schools as part of a plan to loosen measures against the pandemic.

The country is set to end six weeks of travel restrictions to key cities and allow some students back to classrooms from Monday.

Countries across the globe are wrestling with issues of how to roll back restrictions while keeping a lid on the virus.

Benin is among a growing number of Africa nations relaxing measures that have battered their fragile economies.

The country has in recent days seen its tally of confirmed infections double to 284 as testing has been increased.

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The authorities said that almost 14,000 tests were carried out between May 3 and 7, with the focus now on teachers and health workers.

So far just two fatalities from the virus have been confirmed.

Students from the final year of primary school through to universities will return to lessons on Monday after six weeks at home.

Masks will be distributed to pupils and nursery schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

Lecture halls at universities will remain shut to avoid large gatherings and some courses will be delivered online, officials said.

The plan to reopen schools has faced some criticism from unions.

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Anselme Amoussou, general secretary of one of the country’s largest labour organisation, said testing remained “insufficient”, an AFP report said.

“The government is aware that it will not be able to screen everyone before school starts,” he said.

“But we ask everyone to be in classes and we did not include students in the testing.”

Benin was one of the first African countries to make wearing masks obligatory in public when it introduced the measures in main cities and towns on April 8.

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