Mali on lockdown as first coronavirus cases reported, but parliamentary elections to go ahead

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Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced a nationwide night-time curfew on Wednesday to limit the spread of coronavirus, but said a parliamentary vote planned for this week will go ahead.


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In a televised address, Keita said the government will enforce a curfew between 21:00 to 05:00, from Thursday, and close land borders in response to the virus.

Freight will still be allowed into the West African state, he said, and markets will remain open.

Earlier on Wednesday, Malian authorities recorded the country's first coronavirus infections, in two nationals who had recently arrived from France.

Experts fear the country is particularly exposed to an outbreak because of its jihadist conflict, which first broke out in the north in 2012 and has since engulfed the centre.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict, and swathes of Mali's territory remain outside state control.

Despite the coronavirus risk, Keita said that a long-delayed parliamentary election — whose first round is planned for Sunday — will go ahead, although in "scrupulous respect" of health measures.

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