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Guinea to mandate mask-wearing against virus

Workers dressed in full body gear prepares to disinfect shops and streets in Conakry, Guinea, on April 12, 2020 during a cleaning and disinfecting campaign as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo by CELLOU BINANI / AFP)

Guinean President Alpha Conde has decided to make the wearing of masks compulsory in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking in a televised address on Monday evening, the president said offenders would be “prevented from moving around” and slapped with a civil disobedience tax of 30,000 Guinean francs ($3.16, 2.8 euros).

The order takes effect from Saturday.

Authorities in Guinea, a West African state of some 13 million people, have declared over 300 coronavirus infections to date, with cases apparently rising exponentially.

Conde himself referred to the “worrying pace” of the spread of the virus and to the risk that the country’s healthcare system could be overwhelmed.

Despite vast mineral reserves, Guinea is a poor country and there are fears that it is ill-equipped to handle a large outbreak of COVID-19.

It was also badly hit by an Ebola outbreak that claimed some 2,500 lives between 2013 and 2016.

On Monday, Conde called on all companies, ministries and NGOs to provide masks to their employees by Saturday. He also urged that masks be manufactured locally, and sold cheaply.

The move adds to earlier anti-virus measures in Guinea, which have included a night-time curfew, shutting borders, banning large gatherings, and closing schools and religious sites.


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