The President of the Transition in Mali, Bah N’Daw, on Monday announced drastic measures to break the chain of contamination of COVID-19, which is gaining ground in the country.
In a speech on Malian television, N’Daw called on the citizens to comply with the preventive measures, warning that “we should not fall into demobilizing fatalism”.
“We have the duty and the power to make mosques and churches the first battlefield against the pandemic. It only takes one mask per worshiper, adherence to social distancing, and hygienic measures such as hand washing and regular disinfection of places of worship,” he suggested.
N’Daw called for national mobilization, which begins when an individual observed the awareness at the family level, and then mobilizes others at the level of the communes.
“To Imams, priests, pastors, heads of neighbourhoods, heads of families, civil society, unions, political parties, youth, women, influencers, let’s stand up, let’s give each other a hand to defeat the coronavirus,” insisted the Malian head of state.
In this perspective, he said, the policy of “a Malian, a mask” will be renewed and intensified without delay.
This operation aims to make available and freely distribute millions of reusable masks whose wearing will be made gradually mandatory in public spaces in the capital, as well as in regional capitals.
In addition to the wearing of face masks in public places, this involves systematic handwashing with soap, respect for physical distancing, and limiting groupings, including for weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
“We also need to agree to reduce the opening hours of markets from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Awareness and persuasion teams will be mobilized to do this, with the full consent of users,” said N’Daw, who intends to take decisions in the coming days to counter the pandemic, including the closure of primary, secondary and higher education institutions, public or private, for a period of 28 days, as well as places of pleasure, sports, bars and restaurants for the same period.
At the same time, a curfew will be introduced from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and airports and border authorities will be called upon to reinforce the control of travel documents with a valid and duly established COVID-19 test certificates.
From two cases on March 25, Mali is now close to 5,000 cases of infection and 156 deaths.
In the opinion of specialists, these figures would be largely underestimated, as the screening capacities are dramatically low in the country.