Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Health, was out and about on Saturday, 28 March, 2020 to sensitise his constituents on how to prevent the infection and spread of the COVID-19 disease outbreak in The Gambia.
The Banjul North representative, walking on foot with a public address (PA) system mounted on a vehicle, passed through every street in the Constituency with his message of calling on the people to embrace frequent hand washing and social distancing rules being recommended by health officials.
"Residents of Banjul North, it is your representative who is going round urging each and every one of you to pay heed to the WHO and Ministry of Health advice of frequent hand washing with soap and social physical distancing to prevent the transmission of the Covid 19 disease," said Hon. Sillah.
He was appealing to the people to stay at home and indoors to avoid being infected or transmitting the COVID-19 disease to others as it is already in the Gambia with three confirmed cases and of which one of the patients died.
"I want to assure you that Covid-19 or corona virus is a disease that is real, highly infectious and kills; It can infect anybody and does not discriminate as to whether you are a child or adult, man or woman, rich or poor, black or white; It is a disease that does not have legs or wings to travel but is transmitted from one person to another or from an object to a person," said Hon. Sillah.
He explained to them that "there is no known vaccine or drugs yet for the cure of the COVID-19 disease but the good news is that we can prevent its transmission and spread by adhering to the recommendations of WHO of personal hygiene and social distancing."
He emphasised the importance of prevention as the most effective and only way out for countries like the Gambia to defeat this dreadful and deadly disease as has been proven by other countries, including China, where this epidemic first began.
The Banjul North representative advised people to "avoid going out much as possible, avoid gatherings, stop shaking hands, not cough or sneeze on people or raise their bent elbow when coughing or sneezing."
He explained that people have to wash their hands every time after touching door handles, car doors, keys, money or any surface that people touch with their hands. He also advised that they should be frequently cleaning the door handles, mobile phones, remote control devices with clothes soaked in soap (detergents) or hand sanitisers.
The Banjul North NAM was telling the constituents that it would be very difficult in these hard times to ask people who had to go out to fend for their families for survival to stay at home, but that it is also important for people to scale down their movements and to go out only when it is necessary.
"For those of you the family or household heads who cannot avoid going out, my advice is for you to observe the social physical distancing rule of staying one or one and a half metre apart of each other at the places you go to," said Hon. Sillah.
He advised them to physically stay apart from each other in their homes, markets, offices, NAWEC points of sale (POS), banking halls, car parks, vehicles and any place where crowds gather.
On the social gatherings and street corner vous, the Banjul North NAM said "I am urging you to avoid or stop these street vous and do your 'Attaya' brewing and drinking in your homes as the glasses (cas) and cigarrettes you share could be a source of transmission of the Covid 19 disease."
Hon. Sillah appealed to parents to keep their children out of the streets and ensure that they stay at home and indoors at all times. "What is the point of closing the schools for pupils to stay home to avoid the transmission of the disease among themselves only for these same children to be allowed out in the streets where there is high risk of transmission?" he asked.
He was telling them that a disease that is not asking people to stop praying but to stop going to the mosques and churches to avoid the congregation as a source of transmission means that this is something that is real and had to be taken very seriously.
According to the Banjul North lawmaker, all the other NAMs are supposed to be rolling out to their respective constituencies to sensitise constituents on the prevention of the Covid 19 disease in the country.