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Gambian authorities allay coronavirus fears as Senegal registers first case

Modou Njie

By Arfang M.S. Camara

Gambian health experts have allayed fears coronavirus fears and refuted circulating social media rumors about a case at the main Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.

Speaking at a press conference Monday afternoon, Modou Njai, the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health said the country’s status still remained unchanged about the virus which started in Wuhan in China.

Njai’s statement followed rumors on Facebook about a suspected case of the virus. The press conference was held almost immediately after neighboring Senegal confirmed its first case of coronavirus.

“The information about the Gambia’s suspected case on coronavirus is false and it has not happened. The signs and symptoms possessed by that particular person does not get closer to coronavirus and is not even a suspect,” Njai said.

He called on people to support the ministry by not giving or spreading false information about people’s health in the country.

“If anybody wants any information just approach us and we will give you anything credible that you need to know,” he said.

On the contingency measures of the ministry, Njai said the department is working very hard to strengthen the country’s surveillance system in the borders. According to him, public health officers are posted at both the air and sea ports as part of strengthening the surveillance system.

“Before these people were posted, they were having 24hrs shift to monitor people that are coming in the country. IOM is supporting us with capacity building training not only for health workers but to some security personnel’s as well,” he noted.

For his part, Dr. Desta A Tiruneh, a WHO representative in The Gambia said the cases of Coronavirus in China are showing a decline, while the number of cases outside Are on the rise.

According to him, the most important thing to do is for a country to prepare very well for any suspected or confirmed case to handle It in a safe manner without spreading the infection to the general public.

As part of the country’s preparedness, he said Stakeholders will hold a stakeholders meeting every week to share ideas about Coronavirus, adding that with what is happening globally, any country can report a case at any point in time.

“We would be receiving some protective equipment very soon for Gambia to also prepare for any eventuality. Partners in the country are willing to join us to support government in fighting against any diseases or virus,” he said.

Sanna Sambou, the Programme Coordinator at the Disease Control Department, explained that coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause illness, ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiration syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiration Syndrome (SARS).

“Coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not.”

He said Among the signs and symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, pneumonia, severe acute respiration syndrome and kidney failure.

He added that all the international travelers from affected countries are and followed up for 14 days’ incubation period from January to date, adding that there were 55 listed for follow-up which 16 are 16 are completed with negative while 39 are still under follow up.

“There are 87,137 global confirmed cases on coronavirus of which 79, 968 (92%) are in China. 2873 reported death and the 92% of death cases are all in mainland China

According to statistic there are 87,137 global confirmed cases on coronavirus, of which 79,968 (92%) are in China. 2873 reported death and the 92% of death cases are all in mainland China.

Meanwhile, senegalese authorities have called for calm and vigilance as doctors treat a Dakar-based French man who tested positive for the virus.


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