Coronavirus cases in Gambia, mainland Africa’s smallest country, have surged over 60% in the last seven days to nearly 800 cases, health ministry data showed on Wednesday.
Authorities attributed the rise to people relaxing their guard on protective measures that had so far kept Gambia’s case total the lowest in Africa. Testing has also increased in the country, where the number of deaths is 16.
“There is increased enforcement of mask-wearing and other measures across the country,” government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh said.
Gambia will increase police, paramilitary, marine and immigration presence on its border as scores of Senegalese return from celebrating Eid al-Adha in neighbouring Senegal, which has recorded over 10,400 cases, he added.
The health ministry said six people who were confirmed cases are still at large, while two other positive cases have fled from a treatment centre in the capital.
Three cabinet ministers have tested positive for COVID-19, the government said on Sunday, while health minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh is in self-isolation.
Vice President Isatou Touray also tested positive on July 29, leading President Adama Barrow to enter self-isolation. The government said on Tuesday the president had tested negative.