COVID-19 pandemic in the Gambia

Last updated

COVID-19 pandemic in Gambia
Disease COVID-19
Virus strain SARS-CoV-2
Location The Gambia
First outbreak Wuhan, China
Index case Banjul
Arrival date17 March 2020
(1 year, 7 months, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Confirmed cases9,973 [1] (updated 4 Nov 2021)
Deaths
341 [1] (updated 4 Nov 2021)
VaccinationsUpdated 4 Nov 2021:
  • 234,467 [1] (total vaccinated)
  • 220,502 [1] (fully vaccinated)
  • 265,620 [1] (doses administered)

The COVID-19 pandemic in The Gambia is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached The Gambia in March 2020.

Contents

Background

The largest hospital in the Gambia is Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), which is a tertiary referral hospital in the capital city Banjul. In 2012 it was reported that there were three other tertiary hospitals, 38 health centres, and 492 primary health posts. The leading causes of mortality in the country are malaria and tuberculosis. [2] There are two medical schools in the country, at the University of the Gambia and the American International University West Africa, [3] as well as MRC Unit The Gambia, formerly run by the United Kingdom's Medical Research Council, and now run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. [4] Political health leadership is provided by the Minister of Health and Social Care, who is currently Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the former Chief Medical Director of EFSTH. [5]

Disease prevention

According to the National Health Sector Strategy Plan 2014–2020, disease control and prevention in The Gambia is the responsibility of Epidemiology and Disease Control (EDC). EDC is the focal point for integrated disease surveillance and response (IDSR). It emphasises notifiable diseases and diseases of epidemic potential. [6]

Timeline

WHO response

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of pneumonia cases of an unknown cause in the city of Wuhan, China. This outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020, and in turn was characterised as a pandemic by the WHO from 11 March. [7]

March 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in The Gambia was reported on 17 March and received treatment at MRC Unit The Gambia's specialist clinic in Fajara. [8] The patient was a woman in her thirties who had travelled to The Gambia from the United Kingdom on 15 March, and had gone into self-isolation after feeling feverish. The Ministry of Health said it was in the process of contacting and isolating all the passengers on the flight. [9] [10]

On 18 March 32 passengers arriving from the United Kingdom were placed under quarantine in a hotel in Banjul. Fourteen of them broke out of the quarantine. [11]

The first death in The Gambia took place on 23 March. [12] By the end of March there had been 4 confirmed cases, 3 of whom remained active.

April 2020

At the end of April there were 11 confirmed cases, 7 more than at the end of March. Eight patients had recovered, the death toll remained 1, and there were two active cases. [13]

May 2020

In May there were 14 confirmed cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 25. The death toll remained unchanged. By the end of the month 20 patients had recovered, leaving 4 active cases. [14]

June 2020

In June there were 24 confirmed cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 49. The death toll rose to 2. By the end of the month 27 patients had recovered, leaving 20 active cases. [15] Model-based simulations indicate that the 95% confidence interval for the time-varying reproduction number R t was above 1.0 in June and July. [16]

July 2020

On 1 July, 7 July and 15 July respectively, the State House of The Gambia announced via Twitter further extensions of lockdown, each for seven days. The country is expected to reopen on 22 July if there is no further extension.

In response to an increase in the rate of infection, the country made wearing face masks compulsory effective from 24 July. [17]

During the month there were 449 new cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 498. The death toll rose to 9. The number of recovered patients increased by 41 to 68, leaving 421 active cases at the end of the month. [18]

August 2020

There were 2465 new cases in August, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 2963. The death toll increased by 87 to 96. There were 1835 active cases at the end of the month. [19] Model-based simulations indicate that the 95% confidence interval for the time-varying reproduction number R t was below 1.0 from August to October. [16]

September 2020

There were 616 new cases in September, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3579. The death toll rose to 112. The number of recovered patients increased to 2161, leaving 1306 active cases at the end of the month. [20]

October 2020

There were 93 new cases in October, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3672. The death toll rose to 119. The number of recovered patients increased to 3196, leaving 357 active cases at the end of the month. [21]

November 2020

There were 70 new cases in November, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3742. The death toll rose to 123. The number of recovered patients increased to 3601, leaving 18 active cases at the end of the month. [22]

December 2020

There were 55 new cases in December, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 3797. The death toll rose to 124. The number of recovered patients increased to 3664, leaving nine active cases at the end of the month. [23]

January 2021

Gambia's first confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 variant was reported on 14 January. [24] There were 293 new cases in January, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 4090. The death toll rose to 127. The number of recovered patients increased to 3792, leaving 171 active cases at the end of the month. [25]

February 2021

There were 622 new cases in February, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 4712. The death toll rose to 150. The number of recovered patients increased to 4089, leaving 473 active cases at the end of the month. [26]

March 2021

Vaccinations started on 12 March. There were 747 new cases in March, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 5459. The death toll rose to 165. The number of recovered patients increased to 5070, leaving 224 active cases at the end of the month. [27]

April 2021

There were 428 new cases in April, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 5887. The death toll rose to 174. The number of recovered patients increased to 5341, leaving 372 active cases at the end of the month. [28]

May 2021

There were 103 new cases in May, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 5990. The death toll rose to 178. The number of recovered patients increased to 5767, leaving 45 active cases at the end of the month. [29]

June 2021

There were 89 new cases in June, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 6079. The death toll rose to 181. The number of recovered patients increased to 5858, leaving 40 active cases at the end of the month. [30]

July 2021

There were 1630 new cases in July, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 7709. The death toll rose to 212. The number of recovered patients increased to 6602, leaving 895 active cases at the end of the month. [31]

August 2021

There were 2027 new cases in August, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 9736. The death toll rose to 323. The number of recovered patients increased to 9345, leaving 68 active cases at the end of the month. Since the start of vaccinations in March 2021, 161,451 persons had been fully immunized. [32]

September 2021

There were 198 new cases in September, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 9934. The death toll rose to 338. The number of recovered patients increased to 9588, leaving 8 active cases at the end of the month. [33] Since the start of vaccinations in March 2021, 172,719 persons had been fully immunized.

October 2021

There 39 new cases in October, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 9973. The death toll rose to 341. The number of recovered patients increased to 9618, leaving 14 active cases at the end of the month. Since the start of vaccinations in March 2021, 220,502 persons had been fully immunized. [34]

Statistics

Confirmed new cases per day

Confirmed deaths per day

Government measures

Overseas travel by public officials was suspended by a circular issued by President Adama Barrow on 13 March. [35] Barrow ordered all universities to close and for all gatherings to cease on 17 March. [36] On 18 March, sessions of the National Assembly and hearings for the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission were suspended. [36] Also on 18 March 2020, President Adama Barrow closed schools and prohibited gatherings. [37] Flights from 13 countries were suspended on 19 March. Passengers arriving from a further 47 countries would have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. [38] Football games were cancelled. [39] [40]

The only facility with capacity for COVID-19 testing in the country is MRC Unit The Gambia. According to their website, testing is arranged by appointment only, organised through a Ministry of Health specialist phone number. [41]

Response

The governments of The Gambia and its sole neighbor, Senegal, agreed to close their border for 21 days starting 23 March, with exceptions for "essential services" and transporting food and medicine. The Gambia's airspace was also closed, with exceptions for medical flights and transporting goods. [42] Health minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh acknowledged that enforcing the border closure was challenging, but said that the closure was important for fighting COVID-19. [43]

On 27 March, President Adama Barrow declared a state of emergency, ordering places of worship and non-essential businesses, prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people, and limiting passengers on public transportation. [44]

On 28 March, the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations donated test kits and personal protective equipment to the Gambia to help fight the pandemic. [45]

As of 30 March, business-people were being arrested for price gouging. [46]

Impact

The tourism industry was affected by the pandemic, causing hardship for Gambians who depend on tourism for their incomes. Many restaurants and hotels were closed, with only a few hotels remaining open for tourists stranded by travel restrictions. [47]

See also

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