Gambia imposes state of emergency, border and airspace closure amid surge in COVID-19 cases

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The Gambian government has imposed a 21-day state of emergency in response to the surge in Coronavirus cases in the country.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, August 5, the presidency said that the government had also imposed a night time curfew and the country’s borders and airspace have been closed. 

“All land, sea, and air borders of Gambia remain closed. Entry and exit of persons into Gambia is suspended except for diplomats, drivers of essential commodities and persons seeking urgent medical attention abroad,” the statement said.

The government, however, said that only cargo and humanitarian/emergency flights evacuating Gambians, diplomats, or humanitarian workers will be allowed to the country but they must present COVID-19 test with a negative result at least 72 hours before boarding. 

“Any passenger destined for Gambia shall be in possession of a valid certificate from points of departure indicating that he or she took a COVID-19 test with a negative result at least 72 hours before boarding. A person who breaches this regulation on the border closures commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of Five Thousand Gambian Dalasi,” the statement noted.

The government also closed down all places of worship and schools but allowed a few number of establishments to continue operating. These are: grocery stores, markets, banks, and all businesses classified as essential.

Meanwhile, workers on official COVID-19 duties, ambulances, and public officials on essential assignments are exempted.

The West Africa country has recorded nearly 700 cases and 16 deaths. The vice-president and three ministers are among those infected by the virus, while the president tested negative on Monday.