The government of Sao Tome and Principe has decreed a general nationwide lockdown from Wednesday, due to the growing number of positive cases of infection with the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
“Compulsory general confinement of the entire population, throughout the national territory, with the exception of exits for quick purchases and medical emergency situations, under penalty of offenders incurring a crime of disobedience,” is the order cited in a statement issued by the cabinet late on Monday night.
As read out by the cabinet minister and minister of parliamentary affairs, Wando Castro, the statement specifies that the measure does not cover “employees in essential sectors, shift workers and service providers in the food sector, who should have credentials for this purpose.”
All “non-essential public and private services” are to be closed, while essential services will have to operate “with reduced staff”, with the exception of health, media, fire and defence and security professionals.
The decision to impose a general lockdown was taken at a cabinet meeting that “looked with deep concern” at the results of tests carried out in a laboratory in Ghana that found 161 positive results out of 213 samples sent from Sao Tome.
“In view of this new epidemiological picture that totally changes our collective experience, the Council of Ministers decided on the new exceptional measures,” states the communiqué, which sets out a new timetable for traders to sell food and hygiene products.
According to the government, the measures are to be in force until the end of the state of emergency in the country, scheduled for 17 May.
On Monday the Ministry of Health announced four new confirmed cases that were detected on the basis of rapid tests, bringing the official total of infections to 174. The country has already had three deaths associated with Covid-19.
Worldwide, the covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 249,000 lives and infected more than 3.5 million people in 195 countries and territories.
The number of deaths associated with Covid-19 in Africa had risen to 1,800 on Monday, with more than 44,000 cases of the disease recorded in 53 countries, according to the day’s pandemic statistics on the continent.
Among African countries that have Portuguese as an official language, Guinea-Bissau leads in number of infections (413 and one death), followed by Equatorial Guinea (315 and one death), Cape Verde (175 and two deaths), Mozambique (80), Angola (35 infected and two deaths) and Sao Tome and Principe (174 cases and three deaths).