The Togolese government has ordered all places of worship to shut down for one month starting on Friday, following a “worrying upsurge” in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
Aside from religious worship centers, the government also ordered bars and nightclubs to close up temporarily. Also, weddings and funerals are banned, as well as cultural, sporting and political events.
The authorities warned that sanctions would apply to those who violate the new measures put in place to protect the citizens and curb person-to-person transmission of the virus.
“Due to a worrying upsurge of COVID-19 cases in our country… the government would like to issue a reminder that restrictive measures are still in place,” the government said in a statement on Friday.
Reacting to the development, the President, Togo’s Scientific Council, Didier Ekouevi, said that the measures had become imperative after the number of deaths keeps increasing.
“In June, we had four deaths, on July 22 and on August 23. We are recording four times more patients,” he said.
The West African nation of about eight million people has recorded over 23,000 cases and 203 deaths but the true tally could be higher given low testing rates.
Togo’s borders have been shut since March 2020. There are currently more than 4,800 active cases in Togo and officials warned hospitals are overwhelmed.
The largest treatment centre in the capital Lome has a capacity of 200 with 30 in intensive care.
“Currently it’s one in, one out, even for those who have serious symptoms,” said Ekouevi. Most new cases, he added, are people who are not vaccinated. Togo has so far received about 1.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.