Monday, April 20, 2020

Gambia Prepares 1000 Hospital Beds for Projected Rise in Coronavirus Cases

The Gambia government extended its state of emergency regulations by a month and half on April 3 - asking people to stay at home without giving them incentives - so it's  business as usual for daily wage earners at the Serekunda market (pictured) Photo Credit: @JoofMS | TNBES | April 7, 2020
The Gambia is setting up 1000 hospital beds in response to a projected rise in coronavirus cases, Health Minister Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said on Friday.

The West African nation could see more than 100, 000 coronavirus cases in the next three months, according to a special committee at National Assembly set up as part of the country’s broad response to the pandemic.

“There is a projection which suggests if The Gambia reaches [its] peak, we expect three thousand hospitalizations, which is a huge number,” Dr. Samateh told a press briefing in Banjul on Friday.

“We are trying to get a thousand hospital beds ready just for emergency, and to increase the number as and when we need them,” he said.

The Gambia confirmed its 10th case of the coronavirus on Sunday, seven are receiving treatment, two have recovered and one has died.

Dr. Samateh warned Gambians and non-Gambian residents “not to be complacent” about the new coronavirus (officially named Covid-19), a contagious respiratory disease which emerged from China’s city of Wuhan in mid-December 2019.

So far, The Gambian population of 2.3 million has seen fewer cases of the Covid-19 virus, but Dr. Samateh said people should be aware that countries where the virus has a foothold started with only few cases, before they began seeing an explosion in cases and deaths.

The Gambia’s projected peak infections were made based on studies on the trends and patterns of the coronavirus outbreak in other countries and on various models devised by various expert groups.

“Those figures are based on those projections [and] we are getting prepared,” said Dr. Samateh, who admitted that “our health system is weak and we pray we don’t to get a hundred thousand infections.”

He said it was important to strengthen the health system, get more people trained and put forward strategies to be able to deal with the expected high number of cases.

Worst affected

A new report released on Friday by the UN Economic Commission for Africa said the continent could see up to 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus this year under the best-case scenario, and up to 3.3 million deaths and 1.2 billion infections under the worst-case scenario.

The UN agency’s report said Africa could see more than 122 million infections even with “intense social distancing” under the best-case scenario.

As of April 19, global infections reached more than 2.2 million people and over 152, 000 deaths since the outbreak began late last year.

Europe with more than a million confirmed cases and the Americas with nearly a million cases are the worst affected regions. Cases in the Africa region are about 14, 000, according to the World Health Organisation.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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