Congo to impose curfew against second wave of coronavirus

STANIS BUJAKERA

THE Democratic Republic of Congo will impose a curfew and other strict measures, including the mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces, to fight a second wave of the coronavirus, its virus response team said on Wednesday.

The mining industry in the world’s leading producer of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper producer will not be affected by the new measures.

Congo has recorded 14,942 cases of coronavirus and 364 deaths since the epidemic was officially declared in March.

But it has seen a steady increase in recent weeks, with 345 new cases declared on Wednesday, mostly in the capital Kinshasa.

From Friday a curfew will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. while marches and meetings of more than 10 people will be banned, the Multisectoral Committee for the Response against COVID-19 said in a statement.

School holidays will begin early, while higher education and university courses will be indefinitely suspended. Sports competitions will continue without fans and dead bodies must be taken to their burial place without any other ceremony.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has surpassed those seen during the first wave, the head of the response team, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, said earlier this month, warning of a shortage of oxygen.

Congo re-opened its airspace in August after five months of closure to combat the virus.

On Monday, President Felix Tshisekedi said the second wave is caused mainly by cases from foreign countries and the relaxation of preventive measures.

Congo’s economy is forecast to contract slightly this year in line with a drop in global demand for copper and cobalt, two of its main exports.

Congo’s mining industry will not be impacted by the new rules, mines minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni said.

“All transporters of mining products will pass the curfew checkpoints because their work will be justified,” he told Reuters. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.