TEST TRACE AND TREAT TO DEFEAT COVID-19 On the 17th August 2020, two National Assembly members subjected themselves to voluntary testing and promised to make their results public ,regardless of the outcome, in a Foroyaa publication.

According to both Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Serekunda Constituency and Ousman Silllah , The Chairperson of The Select Committee on Health, there is need to encourage Cabinet Ministers , National Assembly members and councilors, to know their status in order to fight the fear and stigma associated with the virus and promote the test trace and treat strategy employed by the frontline defenders to defeat COVID-19.

On Wednesday , 19th August 2020 , in the afternoon both Ousman Sillah and Halifa Salah were reported to have received separate calls from the National Public Health Laboratories, indicating to each, that the tests have shown no trace of the virus. This is referred to as being tested negative in their own medical jargon.

Speaking to Foroyaa, Ousman Sillah said\: “Both of us, as elected representatives, have promised to make public whatever became of the result of our COVID-19 tests so as to encourage and inspire others to go for testing to know their status in order to protect themselves and others as well.

The main reasons I advanced for deciding to inform the public about my voluntary testing include the need to demonstrate leadership by example for the population to emulate as well as to encourage public officials and community leaders to take the lead in the “Know Your Status” campaign. At this critical stage of the pandemic in the Gambia with the dramatic surge in cases of COVID-19 infections and fatalities currently, it is of utmost importance for the people to know their status regarding COVID-19 to be able to protect themselves and others in order to ‘break the chain of transmission’ or to ‘flatten the curve’.

I want to assure the public that the collection of samples is a very simple, easy and quick process.

I am therefore urging the people to opt for voluntary testing, especially if you are someone who is exposed by virtue of your work or interactions and also when you live with people with underlying health conditions as well as the elderly and infants. In the same vein, I am also urging the government or Ministry of Health to also ensure that the necessary resources are garnered and put in place to cope with any increase in the demand for voluntary testing by the members of the public.

To conclude, I would to express my sincere appreciation for all those wished that our test results turned negative to enable us to continue, without any break, our service to the people and nation.”

On his part , Halifa Sallah said that the negative result for both him and his wife is not a source of joy but a source of realisation of a deep sense responsibility to do everything within his powers to combat the PANDEMIC. He said “ the dedication of the Frontline defenders in devoting mind, hand and heart to take risks in collecting samples for testing just to determine the status of all persons, irrespective of status or origin , elevate them to be the symbol and guarantor of National unity and true sons and daughters of humanity.

hen they come to do their tests no one cares which ethnolinguistic group they hailed from, the religion or the gender they belong to . We should all emulate the frontline workers in their determination to serve humanity without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

It is important to state that the testing involves bearable physical discomfort. Samples are collected from the nose and from the mouth. One could understand why masks, safe distancing and hand cleaning is encouraged. The virus is traced through the slummy substance taken from the nostril and the roof of the mouth. The taking of the samples only lasts few minutes. The health official simply insert an object into a nostril followed by another to collect fluid from the roof of the mouth. The fluid collected from the nostril and mouth are stored separately as samples for testing at the laboratory.

One can imagine how much time is taken daily to collect the samples. The results are taking days and would be taking weeks, if the demands increase. The strain on the workers would increase.

Immediate action is needed to examine the challenges and address them if the campaign to know one’s status is to succeed. The front line workers would be the nucleus of any successful campaign . It is necessary to prepare a new phase for the fight by addressing all concerns including their own ,” he concluded.