#Editorial

Good Morning Mr. President: Covid-19 requires special attention

Jan 18, 2021, 10:29 AM

Mr. President, we are delighted that the country’s number of covid-19 cases has been in single digits for several weeks. In fact, many of us believed we were beginning to see the back of the pandemic in The Gambia. However, recent developments point to the contrary.

The recent discovery of 19 new cases sent a shock wave  and shivers in the spine of most observers. Then the shocker of the discovery of two cases of the UK variant of the coronavirus announced by the Minister of Health on Thursday January 14 2021 at the National Assembly.
Mr. President, Is this The Gambia’s second wave of the pandemic?
Our neighbours, Senegal, are undergoing their second wave which has seen an unprecedented number of cases and deaths. Consequently, the Senegalese government has reintroduced the state of emergency and a curfew in some major cities to stop the spread of the virus.
Mr. President, the world’s most renowned scientists have indicated that the only effective preventative measure against the coronavirus is the wearing of masks in public places.
In the interest of the nation we urge your government to institute mandatory mask wearing in public places with immediate effect and we should also maintain social distancing, ban all public gatherings including social events.

Mr. President, we also believe that government should set up hand washing facilities points in all public buildings and offices and if possible acquire portal hand sanitizers for free distribution to the public just as we did in March when we had our first cases. 

But most importantly, your government needs to launch a massive public sensitisation campaign (on radios, TVs, print and other media channels) to educate the public on the need to observe the recommended measures. 
Supermarkets, shops and taxi drivers must begin to turn away customers and passengers who do not wear masks. We must guard against complacency as there are many who still don’t believe there is a deadly disease in our midst.

Mr. President, your government also needs to inform the nation on what it is doing to acquire vaccines for The Gambia and which vaccine it is. With the coronavirus continuing to mutate and with the UK variant reaching our shores, the vaccine appears to be the only final defence against covid -19.
Mr. President, the services of journalists is highly needed here in The Gambia. It is vital that you and members of your government work amicably in the interest of the nation rather than attacking the media.
As journalists our role is to report objectively and give credit where it is due and not to praise-sing anyone.
As the father of the nation, all eyes are on you and we will always play our role as watchdogs. That would include constructive criticism and you must accept that to make better and informed decisions in the interest of the nation. Therefore you must see the media as your mirror and partner in national development.
Your government should enter into dialogue with journalists to foster relations.
The Media is not an enemy and you should try to support the media in all aspects because they are inarguably the fourth estate of government. To make the media vibrant and effective for good governance, you must help them in reducing their taxes - in other words, exempt them from paying tax of 2020 and 2021 and give them subvention due to the coronavirus pandemic that hit the media across the world. Giving the media subvention is part of national development and this happens not only in Africa but across the world. This will enable them sustain in the market, pay their staffs and meet hight cost of daily production.

Mr. President, it is important that you organise press briefings sometimes for we are partners in development and not enemies. We are condemned to live together, please also abolish all draconian media laws.

Mr. President, DLEAG deserves commendation and they need to be empowered. Drug trafficking is becoming rampant in the world and it is a known fact that The Gambia is vulnerable as it is targeted by drug cartels as a transit and destination point, which requires more efforts to deal with. Therefore your government should put in more resources to overcome this fierce battle.
Good day!

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