By Nelson Manneh
President Adama Barrow on Sunday disclosed that his government, through the Ministry of Health has acquired twelve million dollars worth of equipment for the fight against COVID-19.
“I am pleased to disclose that, together with the World Bank, we have acquired Twelve Million Dollars (US$12 Million) worth of equipment for the Ministry of Health. The items, which include Personnel Protective Equipment, digital x-rays and ventilators, are being transported to The Gambia from the Republic of Turkey,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Barrow said an assessment of COVID-19 Holding Centres in different parts of the country has been completed. As at now, an initial one thousand (1000) hospital beds are being prepared in case of any mass escalation of Coronavirus infections.
“In addition to these, a good number of medical items including Personal Protective Equipment, test kits and some ventilators are now available to the health sector,” he said.
President Barrow said other measures, such as random testing in various communities and mass fumigation exercises will be employed if need be.
“Concurrent with measures to strengthen the health sector, emphasis has been put on strategic support to households in order to minimize the impact of the slowdown of economic activities. This is being undertaken through effective coordination and planning.
In particular, we have planned for rapid regional responses to control infection through local transmission in the country,” he said.
Barrow said within the restrictive parameters of the state of emergency, the search for livelihood and ensuring food security are realities that must be safeguarded, while they continue to observe the safe distancing guidelines and use facial masks in public.
“Conscious of the difficulties that confront many households, the Government has devised strict measures to ensure that our food stock is secure. I am informed by the Ministry of Trade that supplies of rice, sugar, flour and other food items are available,” he said.
President Barrow emphasised that under the emergency powers, strict regulations are in place to make sure that people hiking prices, hoarding or attempting to smuggle food items outside the country are brought to book.
“There is growing concern that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in The Gambia has increased to ten. This is more than double the number since my last address to the nation. Globally, as at today, 26th April 2020, there have been over 2.7 million confirmed cases and over a hundred and ninety thousand recorded deaths, and we are still counting,” he said.
President Barrow said despite this concern, he is encouraged by the support communities continue to receive from the public, the private sector, individuals, civil society groups, municipalities, politicians and friends of The Gambia.
Besides these contributions Barrow said, there are individuals, groups and National Assembly Members who have committed themselves to sensitise the public.
“Balancing health and socio-economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic is most certainly a daunting challenge. Nevertheless, we must weather the storm and, in the process, make tough decisions, such as the declaration of the state of emergency,” he said.
President Barrow thanked the National Assembly Members for their cooperation in this venture, adding that all these interventions demonstrate their depth of understanding, compassion and unity in times of adversity.
“I express gratitude to everyone for the solidarity and for up keeping the spirit of “One Gambia, One People and One Nation” in these most unusual and trying times.
Although my government recognizes the urgency to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are mindful of the need for professional responses to both the growing health and economic crisis arising from it,” he said.
Thus, in full gear is the continuing and relentless effort to guide the management, containment and prevention of the spread of the virus.
“Noteworthy among the measures in progress are the upgrading of our health care services, provision of social support, security reinforcement and abiding by the rule of law.
Advocacy through social mobilization and the media to raise consciousness amongst the population continues to take centre stage in our strategic responses. Also key is the objective of mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic on the people,” he noted.