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Gambia suspends parliament over coronavirus

‘The National Assembly’s public hearings cannot take place in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic,’ says speaker

Mustapha K Darboe   | 19.03.2020
Gambia suspends parliament over coronavirus FILE PHOTO

BANJUL, Gambia 

Gambia’s National Assembly said Wednesday that it is suspending sessions until further notice, barely a day after news of the country's first case of the novel coronavirus was disclosed. 

Health Minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh announced Tuesday that officials had confirmed the virus in a 20-year-old woman who arrived Sunday from the U.K. Authorities are currently tracing all people onboard her flight.

"The National Assembly’s public hearings cannot take place in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic," said Speaker Mariam Jack Denton.

Meanwhile, the country’s commission investigating human rights violations of former leader Yahya Jammeh has suspended its hearings and outreach activities.

On Tuesday, President Adama Barrow declared all schools and universities closed for 21 days and also banned all gatherings. Tourists have already started leaving the country.

The virus, officially known as COVID-19, was first detected in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 163 countries and territories. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of over 197,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 7,900, while more than 81,000 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers.

The current number of active cases is more than 107,000 -- 93% mild and 7% in critical condition, according to the website.

The WHO has declared Europe the new epicenter of the virus.

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