Senegal declares state of emergency, curfew to combat spike in Covid-19

·2-min read

Senegal has announced a night-time curfew on two regions, including the capital Dakar, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking in a televised address on Tuesday, President Macky Sall said that a curfew will be imposed from 9pm this Wednesday evening in the capital Dakar and neighbouring Thies.

In his delivery, Sall said "This is a grave hour. On the recommendation of the medical corps I have decided to declare a state of emergency on two regions, initially."

The new measures come six months after a first state of emergency was lifted in an attempt to bolster Senegal's economy that was hit hard by restrictions on movement during the first wave of the pandemic.

Senegal has recorded 19,803 cases of coronavirus since March, of which 424 have been fatal, according to latest figures released on Tuesday.

New cases rose by a record 240 on 26 December and by 29 December seven deaths were reported - the second highest count yet in the country.

Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said the two highly-populated regions "account for nearly 90% of coronavirus cases" in the country.

The government has warned against public fatigue with anti-Covid measures, and the new restrictions include the requirement to wear a mask in public buildings and transport, and a ban on gatherings in public areas, including beaches.

Most of sub-Saharan Africa, including Senegal, has been spared the large-scale outbreaks seen in Europe and the United States. 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 arrived last year.

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

Senegal's curfew will run from 9pm to 5am.

It remains unclear if travel between the regions will be banned, as was the case during last year's state of emergency in the country.