Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Health Minister Reaffirms Government’s commitment in tackling Coronavirus

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By Ndey Sowe

Dr. Ahmadu Lamin Samateh, the Minister of Health has reaffirmed Gambia Government’s commitment in tackling Coronavirus by strengthening the surveillance system at sea and airports as well as the border entry points.

He said the virus could enter in a country through the airport, seaport and land borders. Minister Samateh said their Government has put in place mechanism to check travellers at the three places so that they could trace any suspects of the virus.

“We are doing sensitization and awareness campaigns because that is very important”, adding that “people need to be aware of how to protect themselves and to be told what the signs and symptoms are so that they can seek for medical help as required.”

On the rumour that ships come from China directly to the Gambia, the Minister said he is not aware of that but he told this reporter that there are measures put in place at the port to prevent the virus from coming into the country.

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He said there are rules governing the coming in and out of ships and air crafts. He said ships from China have not been banned by any country, adding that countries put in mechanisms at their seaports to avoid the virus from coming into their country. Minister Samateh said it is also important to take note that China itself is taking a whole lot of precautions to prevent the virus from transferring to other countries to the extent of stopping people from moving away from the places that are highly affected as well as discouraging their citizens from moving to areas that are not affected.

Regarding what the government is doing to protect the Gambian students in China in line with what AU said that governments in other countries should make efforts to bring back their people from China. In response to this question, Samateh said when it comes to control of disease there are lots of things that are considered (balanced) adding, “I have not heard of any African country that has evacuated it citizens from China.”

He said the Government is very much committed to its citizens wherever they are and the government has been concerned about the citizens in China.

He said he had been in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they have sent support to the students in China and they are monitoring their issues, as well as monitoring their health condition.

“We are in contact with the Chinese authorities, the Chinese Embassy here and we get updates through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regard to their welfare and wellbeing”, he said, adding that “the Chinese Embassy reassured us that they are doing their best in taking care of citizens of other countries as well as supporting them in their residences as and when required.”

On his mission to Burkina Faso, Dr. Samateh said a lot of things were discussed there with regards to the coronavirus issues and the preparedness of countries as well as countries’ situations so that we share ideas to what we are doing in preparing our citizens, health systems with regards to our response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Samateh said: “We shared ideas so that we know which strategies we are putting in place as well as looked at all we are doing at the points of entry so that there is some harmonization of our response mechanism. We also discussed about strengthening our health systems to be able to respond to the outbreak, and also strengthening our laboratory capacities so that each country should be able to test for the Coronavirus within a very short period to be able to know who is infected and those who are not infected can be released from quarantine if it were to be.”

“We are also informing the population of the existence of these diseases in other countries. When it comes to the borders we are doing our best, training people who are supposed to be the first point of call, we are training the health care providers in our health facilities, also training them with regards to clinical management for doctors and nurses and the entire health care team knows the protocol to follow to be able to deal with those cases.

Other countries have more resources than we have but we are doing our best within our resource limitations, we have gotten a lot of personnel protective equipment and just on this week we received another consignment of personnel protective equipment, we also protect our health care workers who are going to be dealing with potential threat just in case there is a threat.”

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