By: Richard Fiebor (Ghana) and Suma Jadama (The Gambia) /

The Gambian President, His Excellency Adama Barrow, in a live Television Broadcast on Tuesday March 17 declared that all public gatherings be suspended following the first confirmed coronavirus case in the country.

“…considering how vulnerable people are during public gatherings, I hereby declare that all public gatherings are suspended henceforth” he announced.

Since the presidential pronouncement, there has been temporal closure of schools in the country and the suspension of weekly open markets, religious and social gatherings.

Following the presidential pronouncement, the Gambian Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh in another televised statement declared that health officials in the country had confirmed an infection in a young woman who had travelled from the United Kingdom.

“We would like to inform the public of a confirmed case of Covid-19 who is currently in isolation and receiving excellent care at the Medical Research Council Clinic in Fajara. With this announcement marks the first case of Covid-19 in The Gambia.

This particular confirmed case is a lady in her 20s who returned from the UK on Sunday through the Banjul International Airport” he said.

The Gambian Minister of Health announcing the first recorded case on National TV

Before the announcement of the outbreak of Coronavirus in The Gambia in a televised statement, the Gambian Leader revealed that he had directed the Finance Minister to disburse funds to strengthen the country’s prevention and surveillance efforts.  

Education and Health Specialist at the World Health Organization (WHO) The Gambian Office, Mr. Momodou Gassama, noted that first the case is an imported one and that is so different from local transmission. Therefore, the state and WHO must be swift in putting in place measures to prevent the spread of the virus into the communities of the small West African State.

He explained that “imported and local transmission, they are two different things. We will be scared when we see people spreading it from one community to another community. That would be very scary meaning that we have local transmission. We have not seen that yet but we are not resting on our laurels. We need to do something fast. In an emergency, there is no waste of time, so this one case for us as WHO, means the whole country has it.”

Mr. Momodou stressed on the importance of adhering to experts’ advice on preventive measures including:

  • Hand Hygiene.

Wash your hands with clean running water and soap and make good use of sanitizers. Fold your elbows when you sneeze and cough. Do not cough into your hands.

  • Social Distancing.

Stay away at least two to three feet away from someone who is coughing and sneezing. Discard your used tissue immediately and avoid direct contact with others’ used tissues, handkerchiefs, towels and materials.

At home, instruct everybody to use their own towels and handkerchiefs, never touch family members used towels, napkins or handkerchiefs.

Mr. Momodou (Left on the Microphone) during a WHO seminar

According to the WHO, about 8000 people globally have died from coronavirus as the ailment is officially known, while more than 200, 000 cases have been confirmed in at least 165 countries and territories.

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