DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said late on Monday.
The government announced on May 20 that schools would gradually resume on Tuesday June 2, after weeks of shutdown due to the pandemic. Senegal has recorded 3,739 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the outbreak, with 43 deaths.
An education ministry statement said teachers tested positive for coronavirus in Ziguinchor, in the Casamance area, south of the country. It did not say how many teachers tested positive, nor in how many schools.
It said Senegal’s President Macky Sall decided to “postpone the restart of classes until a later date, in order to avoid any risk of the virus spreading in schools.”
The government began ferrying teachers in chartered busses from the capital Dakar to schools in the other regions last week in preparation for schools to reopen. The ministry said in a separate statement that the bussing has been suspended until further notice.
The Senegal was the latest country in the West and Central Africa region to plan restarting schools despite a continuing rise in coronavirus cases.
Cameroon, which has recorded 6,397 coronavirus cases and nearly 200 deaths, resumed classes with the government saying it had put in place health safety measures including regular hand-washing, temperature checks and compulsory wearing of masks.
Schools also resumed in world’s top cocoa grower Ivory Coast last week, and in neighbouring Burkina Faso on Monday.
In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a speech on Sunday that schools and universities will reopen on June 15 to allow final year junior high, senior high and university students to prepare for exams.
Ghana has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in the region at 8,070 cases and 36 deaths.
Reporting by Diadie Ba and Yvonne Bell; Writing by Bate Felix, Editing by William Maclean
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