By this time last year, The Gambia and the rest of the world were up in arms with the raging coronavirus pandemic. Even though The Gambia had barely 100 cases in total around mid-July 2020, the signs were clear that the worst would eventually come as we kept beating our daily record of cases.
After the first wave subsided following robust and restrictive measures, the country opened up and normalcy returned. Businesses and schools resumed, ban lifted on social and religious gatherings. However, by July end 2020, the second wave had arrived and the virus was already infecting healthcare workers across the country. We all thought we might have rushed in easing restrictions.
It is July again. And here we are, the virus is coming for the third time. This time though, it is returning in a new form: delta variant. We might feel that we got this but we haven’t. This virus is alive and well. If the vaccination exercise had continued and more doses were available, then we can be confident of handling it well this time. But there are not enough vaccines; and it looks like no restrictions either. Every restrictive measure is no longer compulsory but optional. The last four situation reports from the Ministry of Health indicated a combined 249 new coronavirus cases. That is staggering!
Let us not fool ourselves. The war is not over yet. We still need to fight this virus like we did when it first emerged here: wash your hands, avoid crowds and wear your face mask. This is not difficult. But it is going to be difficult because, as we all know, we are in an election year. This means more gatherings like voter registration and, in the next few months, more political rallies before Election Day. All these activities require a convergence of people.
If the cases continue to hike, it will be important to reintroduce some measures to curb the spread since there are no enough jabs even for those with single shots so far. It is an election year and we are all excited. But we ought to tread carefully and treat this virus as an enemy to our civic rights. It has the potential to disrupt our electoral calendar. Therefore, we call on the government to not rest on their laurels because this virus is here again. It will take collective efforts to make sure we don’t go through what we went through the last time it was this prevalent. WEAR YOUR MASK!