THE EPICENTRE OF TRANSMISSION MUST BE LOCATED The Ministry of Health could now draw the vital lessons on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

Stigma is what human beings are afraid of when it comes to reporting contagious illnesses.
It is important to teach all Gambians that living organisms are all part of nature. Each living organism is trying to survive on other natural things from which they derive their nutrients. There is nothing unique in having a virus-inhabiting one’s body and causing illness. People are people regardless of whether they live with viral infection or are not infected in any way. All people are either infected or affected. This is why all should be concerned in having a cure or preventing the spread of a contagious illness.

The truth is that some people in our neighborhoods are tested positive. They are honest enough to cooperate with the health authorities to get proper support to fight the illness. They should be commended for their courage.

Those who tested positive are in hospital. Their close family members are under protective observation in facilities controlled by the medical practitioners for observation. They also should be saluted for their courage.

What is the duty of the community from which they came?

The answer is simple. If they love themselves as the family members who have submitted themselves for protective observation the members of the community should also demand the health authorities to sanitise their homes, shops and markets , screen them at home for the time the families are under institutional care and observation.

The state and other employers should grant leave to all those who live in those communities , provide sanitizers, face masks, food for a month so that the community would go through a temporary lockdown to enable the health authorities to screen all and test those who have symptoms that put them at risk. In this way communities would learn lessons that would enable them to internalize the culture of washing hands, restricting handshakes and keeping a safe space of two metres when relating to others. These measures would empower communities to join the fight to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

This should be the template to deal with Communities linked to all cases that are tested positive. It would mobilise communities to prevent the illness from spreading and eradicate stigma through a community participatory approach to fight the illness. This is the way forward.

We need a caring state to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. This is the verdict of science and common sense and it is incontrovertible.