Covid-19 in West Africa
According to statistics, in Africa, 46 out of 54 countries are currently affected by Covid-19. All countries in our subregion (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Togo) are affected. Curfews, quarantines and confinements are imposed on the population almost everywhere to cope with the progression of the disease.
Less impacted than the rest of the world, the African continent also faces the risk of a spread of Covid-19. While the World Health Organization (WHO) fears that Africa will not be able to cope with the pandemic, States are taking steps to deal with it. The WHO director has called on Africa to “wake up” and “prepare for the worst” in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Africa now counts more than 3,300 cases and 90 deaths.
Our colleagues have received all kinds of recommendations on the spot and they accept this situation. The proximity of Easter leaves us in disarray. For the confreres who work in the parishes, it is indeed such an important moment, with the preparations for all the celebrations (Easter Triduum, baptisms, confirmations, etc.). For the other confreres who work in different services, it is also a time when they are very busy. Concern is spreading to our communities.
What is happening today in the six countries of the sub-region that make up the PAO?
The country went from two cases on Wednesday 25 March to 18 infected people on Sunday 29 March. The first round of parliamentary elections, scheduled for Sunday 29 March, was maintained, although some candidates and civil society organisations called for their cancellation. A first victim died on Saturday 28 March.
25 cases were reported by Sunday, March 29. “The first case is a 42-year-old patient residing in Lomé with her family,” the government said in a statement. “From 22 February to 2 March, however, she spent time in Benin, Germany, France and Turkey before returning to Togo. The Togolese government assures that “all persons who have been in contact with the patient have been identified and quarantined. One death has been declared.
101 cases of Covid-19 were recorded on Sunday, March 29, 2020; the government is strengthening protection measures. It restricts access to the territory: from now on, anyone arriving in Ivory Coast will spend 14 days in quarantine. Three patients are now in remission. The first case was detected on Tuesday, 10 March 2020. It is a 45-year-old man who had just returned from Italy.
Ivory Coast closed its borders to all non-Ivorian travelers coming from countries where more than 100 cases of coronavirus have been detected.
The authorities in Burkina Faso announced on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, one death. This death linked to Covid-19 is the first confirmed death in sub-Saharan Africa. We are now at 11 confirmed deaths, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Populated by 20 million inhabitants, the country has, on 24 March 2020, 207 confirmed cases of Covid-19 patients. About sixty passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines flight are, moreover, in quarantine in a hotel in Ouagadougou because of a suspicious case on board the aircraft.
With five cases listed, on Sunday, March 29, 2020, Mauritania decided to close its airports to flights from and to foreign countries. As early as 21 March 2020, the government had already announced the “closure of public and private schools, including Universities and Institutes, for a period of one week which may be subject to re-evaluation”. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazwani and his government announced late Thursday afternoon, 26 March 2020, that they will make a donation to the newly created national solidarity fund for the fight against Covid-19.
One of the poorest Sahelian countries in the world, Niger recorded its first case of coronavirus on Thursday 19 March 2020. This is a man who arrived in Niamey from Togo. He would have passed through Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, announced the Minister of Health. On Sunday, March 29, 2020, 10 cases were registered. Already on 17 March 2020, Niger closed its educational institutions, its land borders with its seven neighbours and the airports of Niamey and Zinder (south) to avoid being affected by the virus.
Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, Archbishop of the Diocese of Ouagadougou, tested positive for Covid-19, according to a note from the Vicar General of the same diocese, Father Alfred Ouedraogo, on March 30, 2020. The cardinal was transferred to the former clinic, Les Genêts, for appropriate care. The Cardinal wants to reassure the people of God, the note reads, and “invites us to remain united in prayer for him and for all the other sick people and for all those who care for them. “We reiterate our encouragement and invite you to keep hope,” the Vicar General concludes. Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, 75 years old, is the second bishop of Burkina Faso to be affected by Covid-19. On 25 March, the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger informed that Bishop Séraphin Rouamba, former President of the same Episcopal Conference and Archbishop Emeritus of Koupéla, tested positive for Covid-19. He is at the Tengandogo University Hospital Centre in Ouagadougou. Some priests and pastoral workers also tested positive.
Extract from Baobab Echoes n° 35