The confirmation by the Senegalese government through its Health Ministry that the West African country recorded its first case of deadly Ebola virus has been met with mixed reactions in The Gambia, the closest neighbour to that country.
The confirmation came last week after a 21-year-old Guinean university student, who contracted the disease, travelled to Senegal from his country. It made Senegal to become the fifth West African nation to be hit by a disease that has claimed more than 1,500 lives in Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria in just a space of six months.
The confirmation has sent shockwaves and created pandemonium among the Gambian general public given the closeness of Senegal and the porosity of the borders that divide them.
Speaker after speaker, whose views have been sampled by the Daily Observer, expressed concern about the situation in Senegal and the fact that the fast-killer and dreadful disease is getting closer to Gambia.
"We are worried because Ebola is one of the most dangerous diseases and I think only God can protect us from this outbreak," one Fatou Gibba, a vendor at the Serrekunda Market said. "If the Health Ministry is trying to discourage handshakes, how about unavoidable physical contacts in commercial vehicles and business centres?" Gibba asked.
Mansata Sonko, a native of Marakissa Village, remarked: "We can only leave it in the hands of God to save us. My son is currently working in Nigeria where the disease has spread over. I used to be so worried about my son, but now that Ebola is in Senegal, I gave up and leave everything in the hands of our Creator. May He cure all victims and protect those yet to contract the virus. People should respect the preventive measures put in place".
Another concerned citizen, Fatou A. Drammeh, told this paper that the epidemic is deadly and a threat to human life. She urged all to be alerted by any suspected signs and symptoms and report to the nearest health centre as soon as possible.
Ousman Camara, a taxi driver, said: "We can't avoid certain things for they are part of our daily lives. So the best thing is to pray to God and follow instructions of the experts".
Pap Barry, one of the passengers in a taxi asserted: "It will be very difficult for people to avoid certain contacts like hand shake, attending funerals and so on for they are part of us. The virus is just like a hired murderer. It will enter one country, kill the number of people it wants to kill and move to the next country as if it is being assigned to do so".
Speakers like Sainabou Sonko, Isatou Badjie and Kalilou Colley all shared similar concerns as the speakers before them and asserted that Gambians can only cross fingers now that this has entered Senegal.