By Ngouda Dione and Cooper Inveen
DAKAR (Reuters) – With COVID-19 cases on the rise across Senegal, Pape Gueye has made the difficult decision to spend the first Eid al-Adha of his life away from his 88-year-old mother.
“I know a lot of people who have had it,” said Gueye, 43, brewing a cup of green tea as he sat with masked friends outside his apartment in the capital, Dakar.
“Some of them survived and some died,” he said on Monday, the day before the Muslim feast to mark the feast of sacrifice, known in Senegal as Tabaski, when families gather in across the country. “After what I felt and the people around me who got it, I’m going to stay home.”
Overall, the West African country has been spared the death and infection levels seen in other parts of the world, recording just 52,671 cases and 1,227 deaths during the pandemic, according to the reports. figures from the Ministry of Health.
Political cartoons about world leaders
But cases have skyrocketed over the past week, threatening to overwhelm health services just as Senegalese prepare to reunite with extended families for the most anticipated holiday of the year.
President Macky Sall threatened on Friday to close borders and impose a new state of emergency after the country broke its daily record for cases three times in a single week.
The day after Sall’s statement, that record doubled to surpass 1,350. Supply shortages mean the virus could have enough space to run. Just over 600,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered to a population of approximately 16 million people.
Not everyone in Dakar was on the same wavelength as Gueye on Monday. Parking lots and street corners were lined with buses leaving town, their roofs laden with baggage and sacrificial sheep. Inside, few passengers wore masks.
Some people have scoffed at the idea that the risk of COVID-19 could outweigh a holy event. Others were more measured, but unwavering in their desire to travel.
“After going for so long without seeing your family members, your mother or your children, even though the COVID-19 situation is complicated, you close your eyes and leave,” said Alhassane Sow, carrying a machete he would use to slaughter the family lamb. .
(Reporting by Ngouda Dione and Cooper Inveen; Editing by Aaron Ross and Karishma Singh)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.