The Togolese government has ordered all churches and mosques in the country to close down for a month, effective from Friday, following a “worrying upsurge” in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
Togo, with a population of about eight million people, has recorded just over 23,000 cases and 203 deaths but the true tally could be higher given low testing rates.
“The number of deaths keeps increasing,” Didier Koumavi Ekouevi, President of the country’s scientific council said on Wednesday.
“In June, we had four deaths, in July 22 and in August 33. We are recording four times more patients.”
The country’s government said occasions such as weddings and funerals are banned, as well as cultural, sporting and political events from Friday.
Bars and nightclubs have also been asked to shut down temporarily.
The authorities warned that sanctions would be meted out to those who disobey the new measures.
“Due to a worrying upsurge of Covid-19 cases in our country, the government would like to issue a reminder that restrictive measures are still in place,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
The borders of the West African country have been shut since March 2020.
There are currently more than 4,800 active cases in Togo and officials warned hospitals are overwhelmed.
The largest treatment centre in the capital Lome has a capacity of 200 with 30 in intensive care.
“Currently, it’s one in, one out, even for those who have serious symptoms,” said Ekouevi.
Most new cases, he added, are people who are not vaccinated.
The country has so far received about 1.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.