Back at the beginning of March, the head pastor and I were talking about the election and how the opposition was challenging the result. He told me (in French) that he hadn’t heard that there was « un couvre-feu », which literally means “a cover fire”. My thought was, “Are things that bad that there is gun fire?!?”
A week or so later I was talking to the neighbor who lives behind my building (but the entrance to my building leads to her apartment behind, so we share the main entrance). She was telling me that she got back from her work at a restaurant downtown at 2 am. When I remarked how late that was, she said that there wasn’t « couvre-feu », and I was confused, but also glad no one was shooting guns on my street.
Finally toward the end of March, the government instituted a « couve-feu » and I was like, “OK, I have to look this word up!” I did, and it actually means “curfew”! I had totally misunderstood what my neighbor and the head pastor here had said!
Ironically, our English word comes from the French “cover fire”. I guess when a curfew was enacted back in the day, it was the time you had to literally cover your fire and go inside.
In any case, the curfew that the government started from 8 pm to 6 am to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 was initially loosed to be 9 pm to 6 am, then a few weeks ago to 10 pm to 5 pm. And as of today (June 9th, 2020), the curfew has been lifted completely (although I will miss it, as I live on a busy street and welcomed the peace and quiet).
The closing off of several major cities (of which Lomé was one) – which was to limit travel and spread between bigger cities – has also been lifted, as the number of new cases is fairly stable, and low.
In place of these measure, it is now mandatory to wear masks.
I have heard that initially in some countries, like Cameroon and Ethiopia, foreigners were being attacked by the locals because it was foreigner who brought the virus into the countries. While that is highly unlikely to ever happen here, as Togo is very welcoming, I have been wearing a mask whenever I go out, even when it wasn’t mandatory, to show that I take the situation seriously and am trying to do my part to protect others and limit the propagation.
Compared to the rest of the world, much of Africa, and Togo especially, has not been hit very hard by the pandemic. That is very fortunate (thanks be to God!), as the medical facilities in Africa are not as equipped as they are in other places.
The airport is still closed to incoming passengers (except for repatriation of Togolese), but they are making plans for when it opens again, including rapid COVID-19 testing upon arrival and other measures.
Schools and churches are still closed. This has been more difficult here than in the US and in more developed countries. While I have been blessed to tune into some live-streamed services, and I have even been able give a virtual presentation on the work here for a church in Minneapolis and preach at their mission festival from my dinning room table here in Togo, most people here do not have access to affordable internet and churches and schools do not have the setup or equipment to stream services or classes. I pray that we will be able to resume worship services and seminary classes soon so that we can encourage one another from God’s word during these difficult times.