Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: The Executive branch is shutting down—no meeting of Cabinet and the National Security Council. Moreover, the vice president, Dr. Isatou Touray, reportedly positive to Coronavirus and the Statehouse in Banjul. It is, by implication, grounded since President Adama Barrow will be in self-isolation for two weeks. Furthermore, this is no politics. Recall, nobody could or should see Adama Barrow, not even his ministers, except through his close aides.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Isatou Touray and her family. Please stay home save lives. Wishing her speedy recovery and get well soon.
This is the time of pestilence. However, it is also a time for prayers. The saints and the sinners. The righteous and the unrighteous. The Covid- 19 positive and the Covid -19 negative. If we have faith, we can move mountains, and the prayers of the righteous avail as much to defeat this deadly pathogen.
We also see panic and pandemonium in the population. The cause of the panic is a strange illness, an unusual affliction that had struck. Many are sick, and many are dying. The illness is called coronavirus pandemic or Covid-19.
Nobody is immune. Male and females. Kings, Queens, and Princes. Presidents, Governors, and Prime Ministers. Congress members, senators, and Parliamentarians. The governing and the governed. Rich and Poor. Men, Women, Boys, and Girls. And Children and the Elderly as well as Celebrities.
Fatoumatta: There is a prime place in medical history for Mary Mallon, a career cook for several wealthy families in New York who spread disease and death everywhere she worked. One such wealthy people was Charles Henry Warren, a banker with a Midas touch who engaged Mallon in his Long Island vacationing home as a cook in 1906. Medical historians state that “from 27 August to 3 September of 1906, six of the eleven people present in Warren’s house suffered typhoid fever…” In 1915, as a cook of Sloane Maternity in Manhattan, “she contaminated, in three months, at least 25 people, doctors, nurses, and staff. Two of them died.” She moved from home to home such that as she built her career, she innocently built the unenviable, solid reputation of having contaminated at least 122 people, including five dead. In the end, she was stigmatized as ‘Typhoid Mary,’ quarantined and isolated for 26 years, had a stroke, died at 69 in 1938, her corpse was ‘hurried away’ and buried in a grave of ethical controversies.
Fatoumatta: ‘Typhoid Mary’ today is an item in the English lexicon. In medicine, it means ‘a healthy carrier’ of harmful diseases; it also means, in general terms, “a transmitter of undesirable opinions or attitudes.” A dubious reputation is an eternal damnation, and it can be excruciating when it is garnered in innocence. However, in matters of life and death, innocence mitigates nothing; vigilance does. The cook from Cookstown, Ireland, hosted a contagious disease, lived in its denial, and was very fierce resisting being tested for it. “I never had typhoid in my life and have always been healthy,” Mallon wrote while in confinement. “Why should I be banished like a leper and compelled to live in solitary confinement with only a dog for a companion?” She sounded almost exactly like some forcibly confined coronavirus suspects in 2020 the Gambia who still take the lethal, viral infirmity as an elite plot to make money.
Fatoumatta: Millions of such obstinate healthy carriers are everywhere today as humanity battles the virulence of Covid-19. The Vice President of The Gambia Dr. Isatou Touray is a ‘healthy carrier’ of the killer virus. She did not know and never believed that coronavirus would ever be her portion. Because of her, Presidential advisers, cabinet ministers, senior government officials, even the president and the First Lady and Second wife had to do tests. Some may be negative, some positive. Some still stroll around in simple denial, refusing to learn from those tested positive.
Fatoumatta: We may never know the depth and breadth of her post-infection devastation at the Statehouse. However, her not infecting any aide, the upending of Statehouse activities, and her admission of positive are enough to set off an alarm in the country and circles of denial. Already, the news of Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray is whipping so many into the line of reality.
Fatoumatta: Nevertheless, the more significant concern is the ashen Gambian people in the urban and rural Gambia with its elite and street denial of this pandemic. This Covid-19 disease will blight everywhere else with viral death. We all saw on national television how ‘healthily’ the State Funeral of football legend Alhagie Momodou Njie Biri Biri was done. We saw how ‘few’ the people there were in disagreement with the government’s social distancing rules. We saw well-kitted members of the State funeral party disposing their highly contagious PPE with their bare hands at the national funeral in the Banjul King Fahd Mosque. We saw all about at the State Funeral of Biri Biri: All individuals, including the Vice President in question who participated in the State Funeral, were not adequately kitted in social distancing, and some did not commit to face mask-wearing and non -handshaking guidelines.
Fatoumatta: Necessary Covid-19 tests should have been conducted to determine their level of exposure and ensure that they not infected or not infect other people. What do we make of that bolted horse and the assurance that all future Official functions or public gathering amid Covid-19 (will be) are conducted in line with protocols established by the Ministry of Health and the Centers for Disease Control guidelines?
Fatoumatta: Did that burial of public figures in the country recently not ask how many more Covid-19 infected people have been in violent breach of contagious disease protocol?
Fatoumatta: Before and after the State of Public Emergency orders on the Coronavirus lockdown, people had disobeyed previous restrictions imposed by the government. Ban on entry into the state was disobeyed, people. People came from index places in the country and either refused testing and isolation or government lack of testing centers in all regions. Those returning from abroad refused to isolate themselves. Gambians people do not want to know what is social distancing. The State of Public Emergency ban has been resisted, and the system has continued unchecked.
Fatoumatta: We did not hear or confirm is that whether the world had found a cure or treatment for Covid-19 beyond the globally recommended social and physical distancing with lockdowns as a crucial component. Gambians have no idea – or are in denial – of the enormous threat this scourge poses to their region, civil servants, and farmers. Or is it that people fear the political backlash of lockdown from a region with ingrained street rebellion against all laws?
However, while we grapple with the fix-able laissez-faire attitude of the other parts of the country, we must all race to the rooftops, shout and prevent the Greater Banjul Area from becoming the Covid-19 version of ‘Typhoid Mary’ for the entire country. If the big news of the country’s vice president Dr. Isatou Touray, would not be the shrill bell the Gambian people need to make it think well and face where the world faces, it means nothing else will. However, before we all get dragged to that point of no return, we must be seen to have fought a good fight for collective survival.
The physicians, to whom the sick and the bodily afflicted run to for cure, confess their helplessness. The scientists and researchers have no cure for the Covid-19 disease. They recommend that the sick be isolated from the rest of the population, quarantined, lest the virus spreads and kills millions of people—God’s children. The temporal powers accept the recommendations and harshly enforce them. The physicians declare that in their state of isolation, the sick could only be given palliatives to help them fight the illness with their body immunities and recover, as there is no known or found cure. If some are lucky, they will recover and live. Those who are not so lucky will die. Many of the physicians and powerful and influential in our society are dying too. The world is gripped by tragedy.
Alagi Yorro Jallow