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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Omicron Covid variant: Should we bring back PCR at the airport?

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We all thought that the coronavirus is gone, especially after the development of vaccines. Well, we couldn’t be more wrong. It is here, again, with the latest mutant, Omicron; first discovered in South Africa.

Omicron came after the discovery of the Delta variant, two cases of which were actually detected in The Gambia in January, even though it didn’t fester. The two cases; 34-year-old man and 82-year-old woman, both travelled from the UK.

The Gambia government eased restrictions at the airport when the emergence of new cases slowed. Fully vaccinated travelers into The Gambia do not need a PCR test to enter. Instead, Rapid Diagnostic Test was chiefly used for those with signs and symptoms. But the tourist season has arrived and most of the tourists come from the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Netherlands, all the three countries have already detected Omicron. We all remember that The Gambia’s first Covid-19 cases came from the UK. The Gambia’s first cases of the Delta variant came from the UK. Therefore, is it not logical that we return PCR at the airport so we could be prepared this time and not allow Omicron to sneak in?

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Besides, having already detected three Omicron cases, the UK has made wearing of face masks mandatory again in public places and a required PCR tests and isolation for people arriving in the country. We, too, have a decision to make and a huge fight in our hands as campaign crowds swell ahead of Saturday’s presidential election. The World Health Organization has already warned that the “overall global risk” of Omicron is “very high”. We better be warned!

As of 25th November, The Gambia has only 9 active coronavirus cases. But with the new variant which is considered to have higher infection rate, we ought to reintroduce some form of measures or brace up for another winter of discontent.

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