The outbreak reached Mali relatively late, with first confirmed cases on March 24, 2020. The number of total cases continues to rise. The spread of the pandemic accelerated since October 2020, with the start of the second wave, from around 15 new cases a day to over 100 cases at end-December 2020 (calculated as a 7-day moving average due to high variability of the daily data). After decelerating since January 2021, the number of new daily cases picked up at end-February with the start of the third wave and peaked at a record high of over 400 new cases on April 9, 2021. The spread of the virus has slowed significantly since then to around 3 daily cases at end-May.
Since mid-March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the government has introduced preventive containment measures. These included the suspension of commercial flights (except cargo flights), the closure of land borders, a curfew from 9:00pm to 5:00am, the suspension of all public gatherings, the prohibition of social, sports, cultural and political gatherings of more than 50 people. In addition, the government set up a crisis response unit, a hotline for signaling any suspicious case, and stepped up sensitization campaigns, strengthening testing capacities, expanding quarantine and hospitalization facilities, and improving medical care capacities. Working hours in the public administration were reorganized to end earlier (at 2:30pm), to protect civil servants. Retail markets remained open from 6:00am to 4:00pm, to prevent disruptions in the supply of population with basics goods. 10 million masks have been distributed to the population. On May 20, 2020, 400 prisoners were released as a preventive step against the spread of COVID-19.
Reopening of the economy and additional containment measures. As of May 9, 2020, the night curfew was lifted and it has become mandatory to wear masks in public. Schools reopened on June 2 for final year students. The schools for other students reopened on September 1. On July 24, the Prime Minister signed a decree putting an end to the pandemic-related containment restrictions. Air and land border reopened on July 25 and July 31, respectively. Normal working hours resumed in public administration starting from August 1.
Policies during the second wave of the pandemic. On December 1, the authorities issued a statement announcing reinforcement of measures, including stricter application of preventive measures (e.g. mandatory wearing of masks, physical distancing, promotion of teleworking, etc.); strengthened monitoring of the pandemic, and enhanced awareness campaigns. On December 18, the authorities re-introduced measures on prohibiting cultural and touristic activities, and public gatherings and events (conferences, workshops, etc.). Universities and other educational institutions were closed during December 22, 2020 - January 25, 2021. On January 25, the measures on prohibiting public gathering were lifted and educational institutions re-opened. On January 20, the authorities submitted a national strategy for introducing the COVID-19 vaccine. The goal is to vaccinate 20 percent of the population under the COVAX initiative. This will include population over 60 years old, medical workers and population with underlying health conditions. The vaccination campaign is to start in April 2021.
National vaccination strategy. In January 2021, the authorities prepared a national strategy for introducing the COVID-19 vaccine. The goal is to vaccinate 20 percent of the population under the COVAX initiative that would require around 8.2 million doses of vaccine to cover the population over 60 years old, medical workers and population with underlying health conditions. The first batch of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine arrived to Bamako on March 5, 2021, and the vaccination campaign started the week of March 29. Around 127 thousand doses of vaccine have been administered as of end-May 2020, which is enough to cover around 0.3 percent of the population (assuming two doses per person).