Health minister Dr Ahmadou Samateh last evening announced that The Gambia has registered its first case of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.
In the televised statement Minister Samateh declared: “We would like to inform the public of a confirmed case of Covid-19 who is currently in isolation and receiving excellent medical care at the Medical Research Council clinic in Fajara.
“This is different from the two suspected cases from Indonesia that tested to be negative. This announcement marks the first case of Covid-19 in The Gambia. This particular confirmed case is a lady in her twenties who returned to the country on Sunday from UK through the Banjul International Airport.
“A day after arrival, she started to have fever and decided to self-isolate at home. She reported to the MRC under isolation and was tested and was confirmed to be positive. The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Medical Research Council has started the process of contact tracing and will endeavour to reach all contacts especially those in the same flight.”
Schools closed, public gatherings suspended
Meanwhile, President Adama Barrow yesterday announced far-reaching measures as part of his government’s efforts to prevent the Coronavirus and to contain its spread.
The president declared that all schools, including universities and madrassa are closed from today Wednesday for 21 days.
“Also, realising how vulnerable people are during public gatherings, I hereby declare that all public gatherings are suspended henceforth. These suspensions include all international and local conferences, workshops and seminars in The Gambia,” he said.
The president also announced the “suspension of all other public gatherings in whatever form, including lumo (open markets) and gamo (Islamic religious conferences) for three weeks. The suspension period will be subject to review as we get updates from the experts. As another preventive measure, all travellers from hotspot countries will be isolated for 14 days upon arrival in The Gambia”, he declared.
In addition, Mr Barrow asked the minister of finance to provide funds immediately to prevent any infection and implore all Gambians to improve on their personal hygiene, “especially by hand-washing often with soap, covering the mouth with tissue or the elbow when coughing or sneezing and social distancing to prevent transmission”.
“While my government is closely monitoring the situation, I urge the public to get reliable facts about the pandemic through official public awareness programmes. Once again, I assure you of my government’s commitment and preparedness to stop any Coronavirus infection or transmission in The Gambia. Together, we can achieve this and contribute towards the promotion of good health for all and protecting our country and our people,” he said.
The Gambian leader said there are surveillance teams at all major entry points into the country. “Whether by air or land. I have been informed that, as of 15th March, 2020, a total of 355 people of interest have been followed, some of whom have been put on self-isolation. 149 of them have completed check-ups without any symptoms of Covid-19”.
“206 are still under surveillance. Of the total seen, only eight required laboratory testing, and their results were all negative. I take this opportunity to express my support to all those affected in one way or the other and to assure you of my government’s commitment to preventing any Coronavirus infection in the country,” he said.