Senegal to re-open mosques and ease other Covid-19 restrictions as cases jump

Senegalese President Macky Sall announced the reopening of mosques and churches and the relaxation of other restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, even as the biggest one-day jump in cases was recorded on Monday.

Sall ordered the places of worship closed in March and imposed a curfew from dawn to dusk.

Since then, the daily rate of new cases has accelerated, 177 Monday against a previous peak of 104, with increasing community transmission in hot spots such as the holy city of Touba.

Senegal recorded a total of 1,886 cases of coronavirus, including 19 deaths.

Sall, like other West African leaders, has faced public pressure to find more sustainable ways to balance public health and economic realities in the face of an epidemic that, according to the World Organization (WHO), could spread across Africa for years.

“In the best of cases, COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the country until August or even September,” said Sall in a speech to the nation. “In this new phase, which will not last a few weeks but three or four months, we must learn to live in the presence of the virus.”

Sall also said at 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., the curfew would be shortened by an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, and weekly markets could reopen.

Several other West African governments, including Burkina Faso and Ghana, announced a similar relaxation of restrictions this month, while calling on their citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing.