By Omar Bah

The Ministry of Health has advised the Gambia government to specifically order the suspension of all congregations in mosques and churches across the country as a measure to fight against the spread of Covid-19.

The officials said the President’s declaration suspending all public gatherings did not exclude any congregation in mosques and churches.

“The government should ensure that the order is implemented as well as enforced,” the director of health promotion Modou Njai told journalists at a press conference yesterday.
He said his ministry will work with the ministry responsible for enforcement to make sure that the president’s directives are fully implemented.

“We are not saying shut down forever…We are saying suspend it for three weeks. We also want to appeal to the general public to stop all traditional ceremonies including naming ceremonies and weddings,” he urged.

Njai added: “A total of twenty laboratory tests were conducted and a total of one hundred and thirty-one people have been screened and placed under mandatory quarantine.”
He added that three hundred and ten people have completed follow ups and have since reintegrated into society.

“Thirteen suspected cases were registered and eighteen people have been tested negative,” he added. Njai said the young girl who was tested positive at the MRC is recovering steadily.

On the confirmed death of the Bangladeshi national, Njai said: “A public health team has visited the Marakass Centre in Bundung and three other Bangladeshi nationals and nine others are currently under quarantine as well as three nurses, a doctor and an orderly from Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital who met the patient.

“Samples will be collected from high risk contacts and plans are underway to fumigate and lockdown the Marakass Centre in Bundung premises. Tracing of contact is still ongoing and we will continue sensitization.”

Asked why the President or the Minister of Health is not leading the Covid-19 information sharing, a senior information officer at the office of the government spokesperson, Prince Babucarr Aminata Sankanu jumped into the president’s defence saying the president is leading from behind.

“Just because Trump is coming up and speaking, Merkel is coming and speaking doesn’t mean that our president should speak. He set the agenda. He is in charge and when the time comes, he feels the need, he will act. But right now the technocrats are there,” he added.

The Gambian leader has made only a single public appearance since the coronavirus crisis began.

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