As of May 21, The Gambia has registered 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One infected person died, 13 recovered, and ten are still undergoing treatment. Of the 24 confirmed cases, 15 were imported, while the remaining 9 cases were through local contagion. 108 people are currently under quarantine. A large operation of voluntary testing at community level was conducted around Bakau (Greater Banjul area) a fortnight ago, after detecting a few cases there. The President declared a state of emergency starting March 27 including closing all non-essential public and private businesses following the earlier order to close the airspace and land borders for 21 days. On April 4, the National Assembly approved the extension of the state of emergency for 45 days. Emergency powers were used to freeze prices of essential commodities, such as rice, meat, fish, cooking oil soap, sanitizers and cement. To enforce social distancing, all commercial vehicles are only allowed to carry half of their licensed passengers. All public gatherings including funerals are limited to a maximum of 10 people. Tourism—a key driver of foreign exchange and trade has halted and is experiencing difficulties. Interest rate on T-bills has increased. Remittances have fallen due to the stoppage of private transfers through informal channels outweighing the increase in private transfers through formal channels (banks, money transfer operators).
The National Assembly declined to approve a second 45-day extension of the state of emergency early this week. However, based on the role played by the emergency measures in containing the spread of the disease, the President used the executive power to proceed with the extension by the maximum 21 days period effective May 19 (which is allowed under the Constitution as the National Assembly is now not in session). Meanwhile, a supplementary appropriation bill is being prepared, among others, to seek NA approval for the revision of spending plans in response to the pandemic and to ensure accountability for COVID-19 related expenditures.