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City of Banjul
Friday, February 26, 2021

Politics in a pandemic

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The blame for any unnecessary increase in community transmission of the deadly Covid-19 virus should be squarely on politicians from all sides. The first public gatherings since the easing of the initial restrictions have been political rallies by most of the big parties, example UDP, NPP, GDC and APRC. These parties are the ones bitterly engaged in frantic efforts to mobilise massive crowds just to show imply that they have bigger support than the other. These rallies are by all standards super Covid spreaders, because no one can guarantee that the wearing of masks and social distancing are strictly and widely adhered to. 

Besides, the first step in preventing the spread of the virus is to avoid gatherings. That is the fundamental preventive action. However in their interest to compete each other as to who can mobilise or have the biggest crowd, political parties and their officials deliberately sacrifice scientific advice against public gatherings and hide behind flimsy excuses of ‘life has to go on or we have to learn to live with Covid’.

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In other words, politics too must go on. This is irresponsible because political messages and statements and even meetings can be made or done with little or no crowd at all especially with the presence of all kinds of media, some of them giving instant coverage.

President Joe Biden of the United States campaigned with no crowd at all while Donald Trump recklessly gathered huge crowds around the country who along with himself went on to catch the virus. And the verdict when it came was clear. Biden won and Trump lost. So it is not pilling crowds for eye shows that brings the vote. It is the message and policies that matter. What is even baffling is despite all these political crowds sport and other events are not allowed to go on. In fact, up to now there has not been any clear-cut message or directive publicly known about the resumption of sports events since the restrictions were eased. No wonder some sports associations such as the Gambia Football Federation have gone ahead with their leagues and international engagements.  The bad example set by the politicians has meant that the general public, especially those doubting the virus have now got an excuse to engage in large festivals, weddings and naming ceremonies and music concerts in the middle of a pandemic. This is sad and unacceptable. Without any discrimination, we feel that the politicians from all sides must lead the way in promoting social distancing and avoiding putting crowds together which are fertile grounds for spreading the virus.

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