House, Banjul, 25th August, 2020 – His Excellency, President Adama Barrow said the COVID-19 pandemic has not spared any part of the globe, including The Gambia. He added despite the small size of the country, if everyone adhered to the health guidelines, we would register significant progress in the fight against the virus. The President made the remarks first virtual meeting of the Cabinet sub-Committee on COVID-19, chaired by the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray, on Monday.
The President expressed delight in having his Cabinet colleagues back at work, adding ‘a lot needs to be done as the pandemic is affecting every sector’. Aside from the regular briefings he receives from the Vice President, this meeting has availed him the opportunity to hear first-hand, the achievements and challenges encountered in the fight against the disease.
President Barrow used the opportunity to express gratitude to the new National COVID Response Coordinator, Mr. Yaya Duwa Sanyang for accepting the job and encouraged all stakeholders to work together as a team. He also urged them to learn and seek support from others, where necessary.
The Health Minister and the National COVID Response Coordinator respectively briefed the meeting on recent health response strategies adopted including efforts to overcome the challenges in the containment, treatment and prevention of Coronavirus in the country.
On the treatment of COVID, the meeting was informed that over eighty beds are available and currently over twenty of them were occupied in the Greater Banjul Area. Meanwhile, testing facilities are being decentralized to make them more accessible to rural communities and three facilities, Kiang Keneba, Soma and Basse are now operational, while Bansang, Farafenni, the Independence stadium and Ndemban Clinic are being refurbished to accommodate and make treatment of COVID cases more accessible.
The Health Response team will also be reviewing the surveillance strategies in containing community transmission by building the capacity of surveillance workers and increasing the number of tests per day.
Other aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic discussed, included the negative impact of the Emergency Regulations on various sectors and efforts to mitigate them, the role of the various frontlines workers as well as support of individuals and groups were recognised and appreciated by the Cabinet Sub-Committee.
In his closing remark, the Gambian leader reiterated that as a Politician, he depends on technical advice to enable him to make informed policy decisions. He described the meeting as ‘good and worth the time,’ while pointing out that, aside from the health aspect of COVID, other facets of our development agenda should be addressed and the procedures and processes enhanced.