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Mauritania reopens mosques after lull in virus infections


Mosques in Mauritania reopened after a week of no new coronavirus cases were recorded. Authorities allowed mosques to open for prayer, but called on worshippers to respect social distancing and wear masks – a call which seems to have been largely ignored.

The government announced it would “progressively ease” a series of anti-virus measures, allowing markets to open and mosques to hold Friday prayers.

Ly Almamy, a civil servant: “This pandemic really made things difficult for us. We didn’t know, but this opening has given us hope. We can pray, we can ask God to grant our prayers and take away all that has happened to Muslims, something we call balaai (affliction);”

For his part, Abdallahi Amar, a trader described the reopening as a victory for people like him: “It’s actually a celebration for us. We thank the State for its interest in the people. We ask all the people to take preventive measures, including distancing themselves during prayer.”

Mauritania has been one of the countries in the West African sub-region least affected by the novel coronavirus, having registered just eight cases (as of May 10) with one fatality, one active case and six recoveries. The largely Muslim Sahel nation has a population of four million people.

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