Mauritania opens investigation after first coronavirus death

Cheih, left, and Ahmed, from the small Nemadi (hunters) tribe in Eastern Mauritania are seen leading a caravan from Tichitt to Aratane in Mauritania on January 26, 2020. An investigation is underway after Mauritania recorded its first Covid-19 related death on Monday.
Cheih, left, and Ahmed, from the small Nemadi (hunters) tribe in Eastern Mauritania are seen leading a caravan from Tichitt to Aratane in Mauritania on January 26, 2020. An investigation is underway after Mauritania recorded its first Covid-19 related death on Monday.
Image: AFP/ JOHN WESSELS

Mauritania will open an investigation into its first coronavirus fatality, the government said on Tuesday, after a middle-aged woman who had been quarantined died after a sudden onset of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the Mauritanian Information Agency reported that the West African state had recorded its first coronavirus death in a 48-year-old French-Mauritanian dual national who tested positive after she died.

The woman had been quarantined alongside 16 other French nationals who landed in Mauritania in mid-March, in one of the last flights to reach the country before it banned international arrivals.

N’Diaye Mamadou, an official in charge of the isolation centre in the capital Nouakchott, told state TV that the woman's case was unusual because she did not initially present symptoms.

She began to feel ill on Sunday evening – just before she was due to leave quarantine – before her condition worsened on Monday morning. She then died en route to hospital on Monday, Mamadou said.

France’s embassy in Nouakchott said on Tuesday that it had been in contact with the woman, but that it had been unaware of her worsening health.

Mauritania has recorded six coronavirus cases in total, two of whom have recovered.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government said that as well as investigating the first coronavirus fatality, it would extend quarantines for the over 1,200 people who are confined across Mauritania, without specifying an end date.

It had previously ordered a night-time curfew and has stopped travel between its 13 regions in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.


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