The pilgrimage must continue: Senegal hosts a festival that could attract millions of people


This year, the authors of this study published a letter warning the elderly and those with chronic illnesses to stay away from the Magal, and urged those who attended to wear masks and wash their hands.

“During the event, the streets around the Grand Mosque and the general market have an extremely high population density,” the letter said. “All of these conditions are very likely to favor the transmission of respiratory pathogens among pilgrims.”

Washing your hands can be difficult. The number of people using Touba’s water multiplies during the Magal, and in most years there are water shortages. This year, too, the taps are running dry, local press reported, with the exception of one late night dribble.

Many African countries have reported COVID-19-related caseloads and deaths that are much lower than other continents, particularly in Europe and North America. Although many cases may have been missed due to low levels of testing, epidemiologists say the continent’s young median age is likely a significant factor, and that the hot weather and the tendency to live much of life in l outside in some countries may play a role. Studies are underway to test the hypothesis that previous exposure to other coronaviruses may have boosted some people’s immune systems.

Like many countries in West Africa, Senegal had good protocols in place for contact tracing, in part as a result of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and can quickly reverse testing of the coronavirus. He has never reported much more than 100 new cases of coronavirus per day, and over the past two months his workload has decreased. As of Tuesday, that was only 19 of the 777 tests performed, the health ministry said.

But not everyone with Covid-like symptoms is tested in Senegal, and with over 80% of Covid-19 cases in Africa asymptomatic, according to the World Health Organization, many cases can pass under the test. radar.

During a trip to Touba last Thursday, Senegal’s health minister told local journalists that he would deploy 5,000 health ministry officials to Touba to monitor and respond if necessary. He did not respond to calls or texts requesting an interview, or questions about why the Magal was not canceled and why so many ministers were in attendance.


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