Covid-19: Senegal’s Macky Sall eases state of emergency

Senegal's president Macky Sall on Monday evening decided to readjust measures taken under the state of emergency decreed for the…

Senegal’s president Macky Sall on Monday evening decided to readjust measures taken under the state of emergency decreed for the past two months to combat the coronavirus.After “consulting […] with a multidisciplinary team of eminent national experts,” Sall said that this new phase which will begin tomorrow Tuesday, will last “not a few weeks, but at least three to four months.”


“We must now learn to live in the presence of the virus, by adapting our individual and collective behaviour to the evolution of the pandemic,” he said.


Thus, the first relief measure concerns curfew hours. It is now in force from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., instead of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. previously. Senegal had preferred this more flexible measure to the total or partial lockdown opted by some African countries.


From now on, it will also be possible to repatriate Senegalese who have died of the coronavirus abroad “in compliance with the required sanitary conditions.” However, a group of lawyers for expats standing up against the categorical refusal of the government, has recently been rejected by the Supreme Court.


On privately owned Radio Futurs Médias (RFM) Mr. Abdoulaye Tine welcomed this backtracking by the state, while putting forward the idea of exhuming the bodies for repatriation.


President Sall did not mention the reopening of land and air borders.


However, markets and other businesses, which opening days were reduced, will be open for six days and will remain closed on a day dedicated to cleaning. It “will be determined by the competent authority according to local contingencies,” President Sall said.


The weekly markets, commonly known as “loumas,” will also be reopened, “but within the limits of each department.” Of the 45 departments of the country, 22 did not record any Covid-19 cases, he was pleased to say.


Places of worship will also be reopened, subject to “necessary consultations” with the ministers of the Interior and Health on the one hand, and spiritual guides and religious associations on the other, “to agree on the conditions and modalities.”


In the context of Ramadan, Muslim worshippers castigated the closure of mosques. In some localities, religious leaders were summoned by the police after defying this measure.


The indispensable face mask


As announced a few weeks ago, classes will resume on June 2 for the examination classes, i.e. for fifth graders, ninth graders and twelfth graders. They will be “551,000 students, from the public and private sectors combined, out of the 3,500,000” to return to school.


However, the school year and the examination calendar will be adapted accordingly. Students in the other classes will continue to follow the courses on television, radio and digital platforms, he continued.


Regarding the University, the Minister of Higher Education will continue consultations with the various academies “to develop distance learning.”


In addition, the government will “particularly ensure” that the attendance of places of worship, schools and other public spaces “strictly obeys the measures of social distancing and barrier gestures, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and hand washing.”


To this end, Macky Sall announced that 10 million face masks are being produced locally and will be distributed in schools, places of worship, markets and public transport.


While praising the “remarkable skill and courage” of the health workers, President Sall said he was “happy” with the local initiatives that are flourishing. These include tailors who make alternative face masks, students, teachers and researchers who make hydro-alcoholic gel and create robots, artificial respirators and hand washing devices.


“All these local skills and know-how speak to us, to tell us that we can make the best out of the worst, that there is no challenge beyond our means and that nothing can exhaust the mental strength of a people determined to face the trials and master its destiny,” the

Senegalese leader said.


In the post-Covid-19 national economic recovery plan, he said he has “the firm intention” to support all these positive energies and creative intelligences “because they carry the generous promise of a more modern and prosperous future.”


To date, Senegal has recorded 1886 positive cases of coronavirus including 715 recoveries and 19 deaths. 1151 patients are under treatment and 7182 contact cases are being monitored by the health services.