By Kebba Secka
Minister of Health Dr. Ahmadou Sawaneh has revealed that the country has registered two new different cases of COVID-19.
Minister Samateh said the patients came into the country from UK with symptom of COVID-19. He said the patients who imported the virus were asymptomatic and they are all improving and are under observation.
The minister made the disclosure while briefing the National Assembly Select Committee on Health about the country’s state of affairs of coronavirus and whether there will be a second surge of covid-19 as seen in neighbouring countries.
Samateh said all travellers from hotspot countries where the new case of Covid-19 has been reported must be subjected to 24 hours quarantine upon arriving in the country.
“People coming from twenty (20) hotspot countries like UK, Spain, France and Sweden must face another test because we have detected the new variant of covid-19 in the country. This one transmits faster,” said the Minister of Health.
Commenting on the much-talked-about vaccine for covid-19, Samateh said Gambia anticipates receiving their consignment in few months to come but couldn’t give any specific time as talks are ongoing.
He said World Health Organisation and partners will purchase twenty percent (20%) of the vaccine (about four hundred thousand people) to cover the most vulnerable people in the country.
The World Bank will also purchase fifty percent (50%) for the population to be added on the 20% while the government of the Gambia is expected to purchase the remaining for the population.
“Initial talk on the processes of accessing the vaccine has started,” he said.
The minister said the vaccine will be issued free of charge, thus he urged all and sundry to extend the positive news of the vaccine against the bad news circulating on social media. He said a committee comprising experts will be examining the vaccine once it arrives into the country before it is given to the population.
Minister Samateh also announced that cost will be attached to testing of coronavirus for those that needed certificate to travel overseas. He said this is necessitated by the huge expense of the services being rendered to the people without any fee.
He said his-led ministry is much equipped such that the results can be known in 24 hours unlike what used to happen. Mr. Samateh said Gambia Government is prepared for the second wave and could even confirmed that the second wave has started in the country.
Earlier in the deliberation, Chairman of the national Assembly Select Committee on Health, Disaster Relief, Women and Refugees, Ousman Sillah, reminded officials that apart from the oversight functions of the members of the assembly, it is the statutory mandate of the committee to call health officials and find out their state of preparedness in case of any resurgence of the deadly coronavirus.
Detailing what has been done to combat the virus, the Minister highlighted some coordinated efforts which included testing all the time. He told the committee that Gambia Government has acquired three PCR machines, of which, two of them are functioning.
Samateh said one of the PCR was bought by the World Bank and the rest were bought by global funds.
The minister said the country’s total active cases stand at eighty one (81), three thousand eight hundred and ninety (3890) are confirmed cases, of which, three thousand, six hundred and eighty one (3, 681) have recovered and one hundred and twenty six (126) people have died of the virus.
About the increase in cases, Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, Director of Health Service, underscored the importance of being vigilant
. The health officials applauded the protocols developed by doctors in the Gambia which helped in containing the virus.
It was also revealed that the country is preparing for rapid testing- an idea that resulted to establishing 8 treatment centres and another three rapid treatment centres are under construction. One is in Basang and the other is in Sama. Each of them is well furnished and will contain twenty (20) patients.
Ndemban Clinic in the West Coast Region has also been identified as a treatment centre for Covid-19. The centre is said to be a state of the art facility.
According to the officials, most of the cases are within region one and two, something they attribute to population density.