DR Congo to impose curfew against second wave of coronavirus

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

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

Congo has recorded just 14,942 cases of coronavirus and 364 deaths from the disease 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, most in the capital Kinshasa.

From Friday a curfew will be imposed from 21:00 to 05:00, 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 being closed to help halt the spread of the virus.

Congo's economy is forecast to contract slightly this year in line with a drop in global demand copper and cobalt, two of its main exports. The country's mining minister did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

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