Senegal’s national bus operator halts intercity transport due to COVID-19 surge

A bus passes a pedestrian listening to headphones near an Oil Libya gas station, operated by Libya Oil Holdings Ltd., in Dakar, Senegal, on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. Dakar, with 3 million residents according to the CIA Factbook, is Senegal's largest city, economic hub and the business gateway to West Africa. Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senegal’s national bus operator announced a suspension of intercity transport services beginning Sunday due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

In a statement, the operator, Dakar Dem Dikk, cited the receipt of “alarming information” on Saturday evening, without elaborating further.

FILE PHOTO: A bus passes a pedestrian in Dakar, Senegal. (Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The suspension comes in the wake of Senegal reporting 1,366 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a new highest daily number of COVID-19 infections with a positivity rate of 36 percent and close to twice the previous record (733) reported on Wednesday.

On Friday, President Macky Sall vowed to adopt “all necessary measures” to control the situation, even threatening to close borders and restrict internal travel due to the spike in cases.

Sall appealed to the public to limit gatherings and travel, wear masks and adhere to social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

“We have to be conscious that this Delta variant has an unprecedented speed of contamination,” he said.

Several people in the Muslim-majority country had been preparing to travel home to celebrate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins next week.

Senegal has reported more than 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths. The West African nation is also struggling with its vaccination programme as just more than 605,000 people have been vaccinated in a country of about 16 million.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)