By Nelson Manneh
The National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees yesterday visited some of the entry points of the country to scrutinise the preparedness of The Gambia to tackle coronavirus.
The Select Committee visited Gambia Ports Authority, Banjul International Airport and Giboro Immigration/Police Post to acquire firsthand information regarding the preparedness of the Gambia in connection to the Coronavirus.
“We are making this visitation to see what is happening on the ground with regards to this coronavirus. We heard that one case was reported in our neighboring country, Senegal, and that has posed another threat to us,” Hon. Ousman Sillah the head of the Select Committee explained.
The Select Committee engaged the officials at the Gambia Ports Authority and the Banjul International Airport on the facilities on the ground and how they may handle suspects if there are.
Alagie Cherno Ceesay the Deputy Managing Director at the Gambia Ports Authority said they were visited by the Ministry of Health and after the visitation they commenced check up with regards to the diseases.
“We have officers from various departments at the ports here and among them are medical health officers who first interact with individuals when a vessel lands at the terminal,” he said.
Siyaka Touray the Health Officer at the GPA said all the ships that land at the quay are properly checked by the health officers before operations begin.
“The virus is a concern to all of us. We have a thermometer that we used to check individuals and anybody suspected is then taken to the isolation room for further checkup,” he said.
The health officer at the GPA said they also check the travelling history of any ship that lands at the quay to see where the ship comes from and where it passes too before reaching the Gambia.
“We have a form called the ports health clearance form. We used this form to take note of the health status of all the people in a particular ship,” he noted.
Mr. Touray said at the quay, they have a health unit and their objective there as at now is to make sure that the coronavirus is prevented from entering into the Gambia.
“The Ministry of Health has provided us with some equipment that we are using as at now to carry out checkups at the terminal here,” he said.
He said they also have a medical company certificate that is issued to only authorised companies who should import medicines into the country.
“The challenges we are facing as at now include the face masks. We do not have face masks and it is needed,” he said.
He added that they don’t have enough office spaces to carry out their functions and also there is a lab, but it does not have the necessary materials.
“We also want the Public Health Act to be reviewed because there are certain things in the Act that affect us in carrying out our functions,” he said.
The importation of second hand newspapers was also a concern raised by the public health officer at the GPA.
The Banjul International Airport
At the Banjul International Airport, the Select Committee of the National Assembly toured the area where newly arrived individuals are received and observed based on how they interact with the officers on the ground.
Madam Catherine Nying the Deputy Director General of Gambia civil Aviation Authority at the Banjul International Airport said when the issue of the coronavirus elevated, they made an emergency plan.
“The plan guides us on how to deal with the virus at different levels. We also involved all stakeholders in the process,” she said.
Deputy Nying said at the Airport, they have face masks that are given to the people who first interact with the passengers.
“We also have an isolation room with four beds which will be temporally used if there is any suspected case and there is a stand by ambulance to further carry any suspect to the main isolation centre,” she said.
She added that they are also working with the international committees to make sure that the virus is prevented from entering the country.
Jerry Camara the Health officer at the Airport said they do measure the temperature of all the passengers and anyone suspected of carrying the virus will be taken to the temporal isolation room for further checkup.
“If any of the passengers comes from those affected countries we make a follow up to the place you are going to and we keep on monitoring you for fourteen days to see whether you are totally free from the virus,” he said.
Mr. Camara said they go through all the passports of the passengers to see which countries they have been to.
He said as at now, the challenge they are facing is mobility.
The Giboro post is not at the same standard as other entry points. See tomorrow’s edition for further report.