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Gambia’s COVID-19 Fight: Why the Surge in Death and Cases

The Gambia has now exceeded 1000 coronavirus cases since March following a rapid 100 percent upsurge in cases in ten days leading to the death of 19 people as of Friday.

This has led to the introduction of weightier restrictions of night curfew for 21 days – from 10pm to 5am and a mandatory face mask wearing, which puts financial fines on defaulters.

On Friday, the epidemiology unit of the Ministry of Health released its 113th situational report which shows a record 155 new cases ever registered in a single day since March, when the first case was confirmed. This has cumulatively risen the total confirmed cases to 1090. The information has also shown 3 new COVID-19 related deaths taking the fatality to 19.

According to the Ministry, within the last 10 days, there has been over a 100% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported by the country.

Of the 1090 cases, 657 are male while 433 infected persons are female. The West Coast Region remains the epicentre of the virus in the country.

Graph showing WCR as epicentre

Existence of pervasive community transmission of COVID-19 in the country, especially in Western 1 and 2 Health Regions has also been reported.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit of the Ministry blamed the loosening of restrictions including airspace and land borders with Senegal as the cause of the upsurge.

“Three main waves of infection occurred – the pre-airport closure wave, the importation from Senegal wave and the intermittent airport reopening and loosening of restrictions wave,” epidemiology unit explains in its 113th situational report.

The unit recommends the imposition of stringent lock-down measures in both western 1 and 2 regions in order to curb the spread of the virus.

“IPC measures should be strictly adhered to in all public and private health care facilities. Provision of adequate stocks of PPEs to all health facilities and health workers to observe all COVID-19 preventive measures including the donning of appropriate PPEs at all.”

Graph showing distribution of cases among sexes

However, the government has already responded to the situation by reintroducing the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) with stringent measures including imposition of 21-day curfew. Worshiping and entertainment centres are also asked to cease opening. Both the airspace and land borders have been reordered to close while mask-wearing in public has also been made compulsory by the Public Health (Dangerous Infectious Diseases) Protection Regulations 2020.

The epidemiology unit has also highlighted the challenges they are encountering which include occurrence of COVID-19 among health care workers, cost borne by the government at designated quarantine facilities is prohibitive and may be unsustainable. It added that the security task-force and the Red Cross Burial Team are also grappling with community resistance to handover dead bodies for safe and dignified burials.

Graph showing surge in cases

But the positive information is that 16 new recoveries was recorded on Friday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 146 (13.4% of confirmed cases).

The country currently has 485 people in quarantine, 925 active cases, 112 probable cases and a crude case-fatality ratio of 1.7%.

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