As millions in Senegal prepare to mark the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha, health officials have warned that coronavirus cases are surging in the West African nation.
Many in Senegal have relaxed their use of masks and other precautions after the country’s early surges were not as severe as the outbreaks in other countries.
In just weeks, new confirmed virus cases have risen from dozens a day to a record of 738 on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health, and more than 25% of 2,913 tests carried out in the past 24 hours came back positive.
Faced with the dramatic increase, Senegal President Macky Sall and his cabinet have limited public gatherings and travel in an attempt to try and stop the spread of the virus.
The government is also urging people to continue wearing masks and frequently sanitize their hands.
Eid al-Adha, known as Tabaski in Senegal, is celebrated on July 21 and sees thousands of people come together for 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 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.
Senegal has reported 49,008 cases and 1,209 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic.