Senegal sees dramatic COVID-19 surge as major holiday looms

Jul 18, 2021, 1:21 AM | Updated: 6:56 pm

BARGNY, Senegal (AP) — Adama Ndiaye got up before dawn to travel about 25 miles (40 kilometers), hoping that she would be able to get a sheep for the celebration next week of the Muslim holiday of sacrifice, Eid al-Adha.

As a result of the pandemic, selling ice cream no longer provides enough money for the 63-year-old to support her four children still at home, especially not to be able to buy a sheep that costs about $140 to celebrate Tabaski, as the festivity is called in Senegal.

As soon as she heard that an Islamic charity would be donating sheep to the poor, Ndiaye registered to get one.

“I have prayed a lot and I was not expecting to have a sheep.” she said. “God knows how I appreciate this.”

After getting her sheep, Ndiaye and other women from her neighborhood piled into a taxi with the animal and left. They’ll wait until Wednesday to slaughter the sheep and use it to prepare a feast to be shared with family and friends.

As millions in Senegal prepare for Tabaski, health officials warn that COVID-19 cases are dramatically surging in the West African nation. In just weeks, new confirmed cases have risen from dozens a day to a record of 738 on Friday and then nearly doubled overnight to 1,366 on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Nearly 36% of 3,815 tests carried out in the past 24 hours came back positive, the health ministry said Saturday. Senegal has reported 50,374 cases and 1,214 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Faced with the dramatic increase, President Macky Sall and his Cabinet are limiting public gatherings and travel and urging the public to continue wearing masks and frequently sanitize their hands. On Friday, Sall threatened to close borders and impose a state of emergency again if numbers continue to rise.

Many in Senegal have relaxed their use of masks and other precautions after the country’s early surges weren’t as severe as the outbreaks in other countries.

Tabaski, which will be celebrated on July 21 in Senegal, sees thousands of people come together in large family gatherings. Many health officials are worried because in the run-up to the holiday, people throng marketplaces and gather to buy sheep.

Only about 600,000 people of Senegal’s population of more than 16 million have been vaccinated. The country has a limited supply of vaccines and is awaiting further deliveries of Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson.

About 30% of the new coronavirus infections in Senegal are from the delta variant, according to Souleymane Mboup, the director of the Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training, one of Senegal’s testing labs.

“We are facing a much more contagious virus,” Mboup said.

The increase in cases is “unprecedented,” health ministry spokesman Mamadou Ndiaye said.

“The pandemic has impacted especially the most vulnerable segments of the population,” said Anne Catherine Dupre, project coordinator in Senegal for the group Secours Islamique France.

Since last year, 30% of the thousands of people supported by the group were forced to reduce their consumption of food as a result of the pandemic, she said.

“We are already dealing with populations that are very vulnerable, so in fact, for them to reduce it, means they’re only going to eat once a day” she added.

Secours Islamique France has been working in Senegal since 2008 and has distributed food and sheep during Ramadan and Tabaski. This year they had to increase their donations because of the rise in vulnerable people because of the pandemic.

“It’s important for them to celebrate Tabaski. It’s the most important celebration in a country where more than 80% of the population are Muslims,” she added.

The organization also distributes food and money, supports education and training for unemployed people. It plans to distribute about 2,000 sheep in the greater Dakar area.

Meanwhile, Ndiaye and others hope the pandemic ends soon so things can go back to normal.

“I pray for the COVID to stop,” she said. “If there is good health, we can all work.”

___

AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the name of the organization is Secours Islamique France, not Islamic Relief France.

___

Follow all AP stories on the global pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A sign for a Starbucks Coffee shop is pictured in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 1...
Associated Press

Starbucks asks labor board to halt union votes temporarily

Starbucks is asking the National Labor Relations Board to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores in response to allegations of improper coordination between regional NLRB officials and the union. In a letter sent Monday to the NLRB, Starbucks said an unnamed government official told the company about numerous issues in the NLRB’s […]
6 hours ago
FILE - A vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at an inoculation station next to Jackso...
Associated Press

British regulator 1st to OK Moderna’s updated COVID booster

LONDON (AP) — British drug regulators have become the first in the world to authorize an updated version of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine that aims to protect against the original virus and the omicron variant. In a statement on Monday, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said it had given the green light to Moderna’s combination […]
6 hours ago
FILE - This undated file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, a columnist for personal fi...
Associated Press

Liz Weston: Just Starting Out? Learn From Our Mistakes

Those of us who write and talk about money for a living tend to have our financial acts together. But that wasn’t always the case. I invited some personal finance experts to share what they wish they could have told their younger selves about money. INVEST EARLY, EVEN IF IT’S SCARY If the stock market […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

New climate deal spurs hopes of more carbon storage projects

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The rolling prairie lands of northeastern Wyoming have been a paradise of lush, knee-deep grass for sheep, cattle and pronghorn antelope this summer. But it’s a different green — greener energy — that geologist Fred McLaughlin seeks as he drills nearly two miles (3.2 kilometers) into the ground, far deeper than […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

US: Drone attack targets US base in Syria, no casualties

BEIRUT (AP) — An attack with drones hit a compound run by American troops and U.S.-backed Syrian opposition fighters in eastern Syria on Monday, the U.S. military said, adding that there were no casualties or damage. The military said the attack took place in the vicinity of al-Tanf base near where the borders of Syria, […]
6 hours ago
FILE - US Basketball player Brittney Griner looks through bars as she listens to the verdict standi...
Associated Press

Lawyers appeal Griner’s Russian prison sentence

MOSCOW (AP) — Lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner on Monday filed an appeal against her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession, Russian news agencies reported Monday. Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted on Aug. 4. She was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Senegal sees dramatic COVID-19 surge as major holiday looms