Though the efforts of Gambia’s health authorities to combat the cornovirus (COVID-19) are commendable, the Government needs to institute drastic measures, to prevent the spread of the virus that has been wreaking havoc all over the world.
The Gambia is not an island, hence the possibility of the virus infiltrating the country cannot be ruled out, amid increasing cases of coronavirus in neighbouring Senegal. After all, the pandemic does not need a passport or a visa.
The Gambian authorities have earlier announced a temporary travel ban on all civil servants with the aim of preventing the virus. However, that is not enough. Following the WHO’s decision to declare the virus as a global pandemic, the Government needs to put in place extraordinary measures, including a mandatory quarantine for all passengers, including Gambian nationals arriving in the country, particularly from countries that are the hardest hit. Yes, tourism is a main source of revenue for our cash-hungry coffers, notwithstanding this, should not compromise public health in any way.
Governments around the world are ramping up precautionary measures, including the closure of schools, universities, as well as other facilities and a total ban on gatherings of more than 200 people. Airports and places of worship have been shut down in some countries. Amid the wild spread of the virus, some countries are on total lockdown in a bid to mitigate the spread of the virus. The US President has declared a national emergency over coronavirus. Canada is studying the possibility of closing its borders with the southern neighbour: The US. That’s because extraordinary moments require extraordinary measures.
In a nutshell, the issue at stake is grave and should be treated as such. An inter-ministerial committee should be set up comprising relevant ministries, such as Health, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Interior, Trade, and Finance presided over by a top-ranking official in the person of the Vice President in order to accelerate decision-making and execution.
God bless and protect the Gambia and the world against COVID-19!