Pres. Barrow: Dramatic Rise in Covid-19 Cases and Deaths Sad

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Gambia’s President said a sudden rise in new cases and deaths from coronavirus is “sad”, and that his government’s development agenda has been “derailed” by the virus outbreak.

A surge in cases in July and August has ravaged the country’s health and economic sectors.

“With serious consequences, covid-19 has…. challenged our health system and undermined economic growth,” Barrow said in a 10-minute speech. He said that it was important for the public to follow coronavirus emergency rules to help stop its spread.

Barrow did not address calls to provide full medical packages to frontline workers and other urgent demands from civil society and frontline workers like making available basic medication in treatment centres. Instead, he said people needed to unite in the fight against the virus.

Since March, the Gambia government has made a series of emergency rules, most of which hurt businesses and daily wage earners, and did not prevent a rapid rise in confirmed cases. Barrow said this was obvious. “We live in unusual circumstances which requires unusual, urgent and decisive action,” he said in a pre-recorded statement.

More than 1600 people in the country have contracted the virus, including 50 who died. Several of the country’s doctors, nurses and other health workers have tested positive for coronavirus, creating a capacity gap for an effective response to the pandemic. Health facilities are struggling to cope as staff tests positive or forced to self-isolate because colleagues have tested positive for the virus.

Gambia’s gross domestic product is projected to revise downwards as the country could lose more than a billion dalasi in revenue due to the pandemic, according to the minister of finance, Mambury Njie. The country’s tourism sector, one of the biggest contributors to the economy, entered a total shutdown just three months into the year.

This is Barrow’s sixth address to the nation, and on Friday, he said he was aware people want him to speak to the nation often, and that he will do so as and when necessary. Pressure for him to address the nation mounted in recent weeks as the numbers of coronavirus cases surge. Civil society groups said there was a need for “urgent action” and leadership in combating the spread of the coronavirus in The Gambia.

By: Modou Joof

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