By Omar Bah
Health Minister Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh has appealed to Gambians to take Covid-19 more seriously by adhering to guidelines as 253 new cases recorded.
Addressing journalists yesterday at a news conference, Minister Samateh said citizens should make it a responsibility to adhere to the guidelines.
He said though the government has put forward laws which will punish violators, it would be impossible for the security to arrest all those who violate it. Dr Samateh denied claims that the ministry has been lackadaisical in their response to the virus.
“This is why we want to appeal to people to take the virus very seriously to protect themselves and their families. The life you may save could be your own,” Minister Samateh said.
The tired looking minister, after spending the previous night at parliament, said Gambians should use the health officials as an example in terms of wearing masks and others.
The minister said moving forward, the health system will need collective efforts and mechanisms to bridge health care needs with service provision to our communities.
He said the Ministry of Health and partners will continue to work on the treatment centres and other modalities to halt the disease.
“The unprecedented and increasing impacts of Covid-19 require the broadest range of humanitarian and public health partners working together. The breadth and range of societal impacts of the virus mean that consistent and honest engagement with communities is paramount for maintaining trust, public solidarity and promoting local action,” he said.
Dr Samateh said the Ministry of Health has through the Covax Initiative, acquired 36, 000 doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine, 15, 000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from South Africa, 10, 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and the recent donation of 151, 200 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the US Government.
“With support from partners, the Ministry of Health is embarking on a nationwide risk communication and community engagements, tracking of rumours, collaborating with community and religious leaders; utilizing existing community-based early warning mechanisms as well as existing feedback mechanisms and Covid-19 vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the virus at the community level,” he added.
He urged local face mask manufacturers to follow the approved production standard to offer safe and hygienic masks that protect the wearer and the general public.
“Locally produced face masks must be washed thoroughly and dried before wearing them. We advise face-mask sellers to refrain from the practice of allowing buyers to test masks before purchasing,” he said.
He said the largest share of Covid-19 deaths is among people of 65 and older, and people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.
He urged Gambians to come out in numbers to take the vaccines, saying though the vaccine doesn’t automatically prevent people from contaminating the virus, it saves vaccinated patients from hospitalization and from suffering certain complications. He said the ministry is working to secure oxygen manufacturing machines.