40 Coronavirus patients abscond from Gambia’s Quarantine treatment centers

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Gambia’s Health Ministry says about 40 Coronavirus patients, who were quarantined have absconded from treatment centers. The Ministry says the absconding of the patients followed what it called “people defying COVID-19 management and testing protocol.”

“It has come to the attention of the Senior Management of the Ministry of Health that there are confirmed positive COVID-19 cases who are currently at large and interacting with the public. Out of the total positives confirmed between 20th January to 25th January 2021, there are 40 confirmed positive cases that have refused isolation or have absconded treatment centers. Similarly, the management is also aware that there are large number of travelers who recently arrived in The Gambia from potshot countries that have refused to abide to official protocols and/or report to the health authorities for the mandatory test upon arrival,” Momodou Njie, the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Health Ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“This press release is to inform the public that there are persons deliberately posing a great public health risk to the population by their respective decisions to either:
1. Evade COVID-19 Health Officials for either transfer to isolation centres, or for testing upon arrival from hotspot countries.
2. Abscond the designated isolation centres;
3. Refuse to accept their confirmed positive results and/or
4. Refuse to comply with The Ministry of Health’s Case Management Policy and Guidelines upon notification of their positive coronavirus status.
Several efforts have been made in the past month by the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Response Team to reach and/or convince the above mentioned individuals to voluntarily comply, however all efforts have turned out futile,” Njie lamented.

Njie warns that absconded patients who refused to return to the quarantine center would risk having their names published in local Newspapers.

“The Ministry continues to treat these matters with utmost and grave concern and thus, the Ministry is hereby giving an order and ultimatum to all those concerned, that they are required to report themselves to the health authorities with immediate effect and failure of which will lead to serious consequences, including the publication of names and identifying information of all those at large. Therefore, all positive cases should self-report by calling the following numbers (1025; 3011261; 3632098), and those travelers who entered into the country and are yet to undergo sample collection must immediately report to Metzy Hotel or call the aforementioned numbers for further clarification,” the Health official remarked.

The Ministry, he went on, would like to stress that this serious and ruthless misconduct will no longer be condoned under any circumstances. Anyone found not willing to cooperate with COVID-19 regulations will have their names and identifying information published on the media and thereafter, drastic measures will be taken against anyone that is non-compliant, he said.

Accordingly, he continued, the public is hereby reminded that “the Public Health Emergency Act (Dangerous Infectious Diseases) Protection Regulations 2020” empowers the Minister or Officers acting under his authority to take strict measures as to when and where necessary.

“We urge the public to become more cautious and adhere to the advised safety precautions especially that with regard to social distancing, wearing of face masks in public and avoiding large gatherings,” Njie said.

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