Senegalese government decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions meets mixed reactions

President Of Senegal Macky Sall
President Of Senegal Macky Sall

Senegalese President Macky Sall’s decision to ease some of state of emergency restrictions on Monday evening is received with mixed reactions by health and economy experts in Senegal.

In an address to the Nation, President Sall announced the easing of some restrictive measures implemented against the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew hours have been shortened by two hours, places of worship and markets reopened 6 days a week, and the ban on repatriation of deceased Senegalese from COVID-19 lifted.

An expert in strategic intelligence, Pierre Hameth Ba does not understand why the state decided to change its anti-coronavirus strategy.

“Because for many of us, it is impossible for us to imagine that when we reach the peak of contamination, President Sall decides to ease the measures that have been beneficial to us,” Ba said.

For him, the Senegalese president went from “having endless choices to end choices”.

As for Massamba Diouf, professor and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of Cheikh Anta Diop University, he does not seem to be convinced either by the relaxation of these restrictive measures.

According to the epidemiologist, the measures taken by the authorities risk leading to “congestion” in the hospitals and “burnout” of the medical personnel.

However, public health expert and international consultant, Pape Moussa Thior believes that these decisions will allow the Senegalese to “resume their activities,” because the country was on the verge of “asphyxiation.”

“The fatality rate is lower than 1 percent,” Thior said. “The number of cases is increasing, because we have an epidemiological surveillance system which is very good. We must not have fear that cases will increase.”

Senegalese economist Dr. Cheikh Ahmed Bamba Diagne said that “the virus will be here for a long time,” asking the population to “live with the virus while assuming full responsibility.”

For him, with an “economy in lockdown,” the state revenues have dropped drastically and the state has large expenses.

“The (economic) outlook is not very good, because the recovery will be slow and complex. The people will launch into an economy with physical distancing. But at least it is reassuring to start the economic activity gradually,” Dr. Diagne said.

President Sall had already extended the state of emergency until June 2. Despite the relaxation of certain preventive measures, all international passenger flights are still suspended until at least May 31 in order to prevent imported cases, mainly coming from Europe.

So far, Senegal has reported 1,995 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 19 deaths and 742 recovery cases, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Senegal on March 2.

Just like several other countries in Africa, Senegal has decided to gradually switch back to its normal rhythm of life. However, the sub-saharan Africa, especially West Africa, still faces a great deal of threats posed by COVID-19.

With a relatively weak economy and health system, West Africa has seen its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nearing 20,000 in two and half months after the first case was reported in Nigeria on Feb. 27. Enditem

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