The leader of Gambia’s United Democratic Party Ousainou Darboe has called for the closing of The Gambia/Senegal border to prevent Gambian from being infected with the Coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Darboe was speaking on Tuesday during a news conference.
Darboe’s statement followed an announcement made by Gambia’s Health Ministry and the UK based Medical Research Council about the discovery of a Coronavirus case in The Gambia.. Health Minister Amadou Lamin Samateh made the announcement shortly after President Adama Barrow has also addressed the nation on the Coronavirus pandemic.
The diagnosed female patient was in her twenties, according to Health Minister Samateh. “This particular case is a lady in her twenties, who returned from the UK on Sunday, through the Banjul international airport. A day after arrival she started to have fever and decided to self-isolate at home. She reported to the MRC under isolation and was tested and was found to be positive,” Dr. Samateh said.
Gambia’s neighboring country, Senegal, is among the African countries affected by COVID19. Dozens of Coronavirus cases have been reported in the French speaking nation.
On Tuesday, President Barrow has announced the closing of schools and the banning of public gatherings.
“Ordinarily the border within The Gambia and Senegal should be open for twenty four hours, but then when circumstances demand that we should be really strict in receiving people from affected areas, because that is one of the ways we can prevent and contain the spread of the virus; that would not be; that would be undermining good neighborliness. In fact it would be protecting both countries,” Darboe remarked.
Darboe says he wouldn’t oppose to move taken by the Barrow government to close The Gambia/Senegal border. He warns that given the porous nature of the two sister countries borders; it is imperative for the government to improve border controls.
“The Gambia is sovereign state; independent; and it has its own borders with Senegal, but yet having regard to the location of The Gambia, being in the heart of Senegal, we cannot strictly say that the virus is not in The Gambia, because what is in Senegal, is certainly is in The Gambia. What I will suggest, what I am employing the government to do is to take the necessary measures to ensure that the spread of virus is contained,” Darboe said.
Darboe has reaffirmed his party’s commitment to complementing the government efforts to combat the Coronavirus. He called on the government to assess the health sector and mobilize fund funds to fight the global Coronavirus.
Darboe has warned that if the virus is aggressively tackled, it could have a devastating impact on Gambia’s ailing economy. He cited Gambia’s high debt burden to back up his claims.
He also called on the government to engage the business sector to see how best a potential food shortage could be averted.