Senegal, which had escaped the coronavirus outbreak relatively unscathed until recently, is now experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the development of the Delta variety.
The health system in Dakar is under severe strain, with hospital beds allocated to Covid patients nearly full and medical workers “on the point of breaking down.” In recent weeks, the West African country has experienced the third wave of viral infections, with instances rising from a few dozen per day late last month to almost 1,700 in July.
The majority of the new cases have been reported to health officials in Dakar, a city of nearly three million people.
In the remainder of the country, bed occupancy is around 45 percent. In the poor 16-million-strong country, an increase in coronavirus cases is also causing delays in receiving Covid test results.
Labs were “overwhelmed because of high demand,” according to Mamadou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the health ministry. Since the beginning of the epidemic, Senegal has registered over 57,000 cases, including over 1,200 deaths.
The Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which saw many individuals travel to see relatives last week, is expected to add to the caseload. After an interruption, Senegal’s vaccination program began on Saturday with the delivery of 151,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So date, around 640,000 people have gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.
If the health crisis worsens, President Macky Sall has vowed to close borders and restrict internal movement. He has so far refrained from establishing rigorous measures to combat the virus, instead relying on individual responsibility. After rioting in March, a curfew and gathering restrictions were repealed.