COVID-19: Gambia closes airspace and land borders as 70-year-old Bangladeshi Imam dies from Coronavirus after visiting 6 other countries

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An itinerant Muslim Imam from Bangladesh has died in The Gambia after preaching in several other countries.

The preacher, aged 70, is Gambia’s second recorded case of Covid-19.

Recall that the Gambia recorded its first case of coronavirus last Tuesday. The patient, a young woman who had recently travelled from the United Kingdom, went into self-isolation after feeling feverish, before being confirmed as a positive case.

The Imam arrived from neighbouring Senegal on March 13, the Ministry of Health said in a statement dated Sunday.

He was given lodging in the residence of the Bundung mosque in a suburb of the capital Banjul.

“Ministry of Health hereby inform the public that a man in his 70s from Bangladesh tested positive of COVID-19. He came to The Gambia from Senegal on the 13th March 2020 as a preacher. He was in six other countries where he was carrying out similar preaching. He was a known diabetic who presented at a health facility. He was later referred to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and he unfortunately passed away in the ambulance before arrival on the 20th March 2020.

Sample was collected, send to MRC and the results were delivered today and was confirmed to be positive. To prevent yourself and your family, always wash your hands with soap, do NOT touch your face, do NOT shake hands, keep away from public gatherings. For more info call 1025 help line.” the statement said.

Authorities are searching for people with whom he had contact and notifying the other countries he visited.

Meanwhile, following consultations and an update from the Ministerial Committee on the Coronovirus, President Adama Barrow has approved the closure of the border between the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal, effective midnight, on Monday, 23rd March 2020.

The decision of the closure of the border was taken considering the rapid spread of COVID -19 in the world and in our region, and the continuous movement of people posing high risk of contracting the disease.

The Government of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal have mutually agreed to close their border for a period of 21 days in the bid to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The public is informed that the closure will not affect essential services, such as movement of security personnel, foodstuff, medical services, related items and equipment between the two countries.

Furthermore, the Gambia has decided to close its airspace from all flights except for medical cargo flights. This closure will also begin midnight on Monday, 23rd March 2020, for a period of 21 days.

President Barrow reiterates his commendation to the national response teams and committees, all the frontline workers, community and religious leaders, political leaders, the business community, all citizens and people living in The Gambia for their cooperation and standing with his government during these trying times.

The President further urges all to take responsibility to prevent, contain and manage the Coronavirus.