By Nelson Manneh
Dr. Ahmad Lamin Samateh, the Minister of Health has said in a press briefing conducted by his Ministry on Friday 11th September 2020, that since the confirmation of the first positive case in March 2020, fifteen thousand, one hundred and eighty-five tests have been carried out throughout the country.
“Out of the total number of tests carried out, three thousand, three hundred and sixty-two people have been confirmed positive of having COVID-19, and ten thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight as negative cases,” Dr. Samateh told the press; that there has been a national pattern of distribution regarding positive cases.
“It is however noted, that the majority of cases are still seen in Health Region One and Two which covers from Banjul to Kalaji. These Regions are the most densely populated areas with 60% of the population of the country,” he said.
Health Minister Samateh said the world Health Organization (WHO) has reported that COVID-19 cases in Africa have decreased in the past seven weeks; adding the Gambia is among the twenty-six countries that are witnessing more than 20% decrease in the number of cases.
“As we may recall, we had seen a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Gambia from mid-July and peaking around mid-August, after which we have seen a steady decline in the number of confirmed positive cases,” Dr. Samateh said. He added that in a similar development, they had seen a surge in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 which has also come down over the period.
“We had seen no COVID-19 related death for up to a week between the 2nd and 7th September 2020. This means that for the past ten days, the country has seen very few COVID-19 related deaths which occurred on the 8th of September 2020,” the Minister said.
Health Minister Samateh said currently, they have one hundred and fifty-five admitted cases, with the more severe cases admitted in hospital. He said twenty are admitted at the sanatorium in Banjul, whilst four are at the Medical Research Council.
“Those without or with mild symptoms, are at the hotels used as treatment centres,” he said. Dr. Samateh said the number of very sick patients presenting per day has declined and that currently, they have three patients on oxygen who are all stable.
Health Minister Samateh said the decline in the number of new cases and mortalities are very encouraging. He however urged everyone to endeavor and strengthen the strategies put in place so that the declining trend continues.
“We have noticed that the number of people going to the hospital for other problems has reduced over the period. We encourage people who need hospital care to go to the hospital and not to sit at home and allow their diseases to worsen,” he said.
The Health Minister said they are appealing to parents to make sure that children take their routine immunization as this helps to protect them from other serious infections.
“Equally speaking we also appeal to the pregnant women to attend their routine antenatal services and to deliver in health facilities when their time for delivery is due. This will help to prevent complications,” he said.
Dr. Samateh said his Ministry is working very hard with partners to strengthen their response strategies by the day; adding there are continuous community engagement and the involvement of various community leaders in sensitizing the people in the various districts.
“Our teams are working hard to do contact tracing. The positive individual’s whose homes are not suitable for home isolation will be taken to the hotel treatment centres,” he said.
Dr. Samateh solicits the continuous support and cooperation of the general public in their efforts to contain COVID-19 and in addressing the health care needs of the population.
“We appeal to individuals to adhere to the COVID-19 precautionary measures and the advice given by the Ministry of Health,” he said.
The Minister used the opportunity to thank all healthcare workers, the security personnel, volunteers and their partners for all the hard work and sacrifice they have rendered during these challenging times.