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Coronavirus – Mauritania: President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani declares the country to be free of COVID-19

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Mosques in Mauritania reopened after a week of no new coronavirus cases were recorded. Authorities allowed mosques to open for prayer, but called on worshippers to respect social distancing and wear masks – a call which seems to have been largely ignored.

The West African country of Mauritania said that it has become coronavirus free after all infected people recovered or died, authorities said.

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has declared his country to be virus free. However, local human rights organisations, including UNPO Member IRA have begun to question the official count. The reason for distrust lies on the fact that there hasn’t been mass testing, and even those people who were in quarantine are back in the community without being tested. Meanwhile, rights groups have expressed that the harsh measures imposed to fight the virus have only intensified the social exclusion and discrimination Haratins already face. 

The government announced it would “progressively ease” a series of anti-virus measures, allowing markets to open and mosques to hold Friday prayers.

Ly Almamy, a civil servant: “This pandemic really made things difficult for us. We didn’t know, but this opening has given us hope. We can pray, we can ask God to grant our prayers and take away all that has happened to Muslims, something we call balaai (affliction);”

Just a day after marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan with a prayer for the lifting of the Coronavirus pandemic, Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani declared his country to be virus free.

“This was done thanks to God first, then thanks to your efforts,” he tweeted to the nation on Sunday, 26 April.

For his part, Abdallahi Amar, a trader described the reopening as a victory for people like him: “It’s actually a celebration for us. We thank the State for its interest in the people. We ask all the people to take preventive measures, including distancing themselves during prayer.”Mauritania has been one of the countries in the West African sub-region least affected by the novel coronavirus, having registered just eight cases (as of May 10) with one fatality, one active case and six recoveries. The largely Muslim Sahel nation has a population of four million people.


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