Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 March 2020:
Yesterday, the Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone – Hu Zhangliang donated a large consignment of much needed medical protective materials and equipment, as well as a 50 kw electricity generator to the people of Sierra Leone to help the country prepare for the coronavirus. Sierra Leone is yet to confirm any case of infection within its borders, whilst Liberia and Guinea have reported cases.
The donated items were handed over to the Minister of Health and Sanitation – Dr. Alpha Wurie, and the Chief Medical Officer – Mr. Samba. Also present at the handing over ceremony were representatives of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, China-Sierra Leone friendship organizations, Chinese Medical Teams in Sierra Leone and the local media.
Speaking about the corona pandemic, Ambassador Hu said China has now effectively kept COVID-19 under control and things are turning for the better in China. According to reports, Wuhan – the centre of the pandemic, has in the last two days recorded zero new cases of infection.
Responding indirectly to the USA president Trump’s statement that China is the source of the coronavirus, the ambassador said that, though COVID-19 was first discovered in China, it does not necessarily mean that it originated in China.
He said that just as the Ebola shouldn’t be labelled as an ‘African Ebola’ or ‘Sierra Leonean Ebola’, referring to the coronavirus pandemic as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” is unacceptable, immoral and ill-intentioned.
He said that the medical items and electricity generator donated to the people of Sierra Leone by China yesterday, is a demonstration of the strong solidarity and genuine friendship between China and Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Hu commended President Julius Maada Bio and his government for showing strong leadership in preparing for CORVID-19. He said that despite the huge challenges facing China, his country will continue to share experiences with and provide necessary assistance to Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health – Dr. Wurie thanked China for the prompt support for Sierra Leone at this crucial moment. He said that China is always among the first to extend a helping hand to Sierra Leone when need arises.
The Minister emphasized that the donated items from China will significantly enhance Sierra Leone’s capacity in preventing and controlling COVID-19. The President of the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Society – Dr. Joe Conteh, echoed similar sentiments.
The donated items include 500 protective gowns, 500 N95 masks, 1,000 surgical masks, 1,000 pairs of medical gloves, 200 medical goggles and a 50 kw generator.
In addition, China has equipped their CDC and military expert groups working in Sierra Leone with testing kits, which will enable them to conduct about 1,000 COVID-19 tests.
While this donated consignment clearly will not be sufficient for the government of Sierra Leone to take further pre-emptive tests for the coronavirus across the country, there are calls for the president to do more to ensure that Sierra Leone remains corona free by freeing up much needed financial resources locked in non-essential programmes and projects.
Many in Sierra Leone are also pondering why president Julius Maada Bio (Photo) and senior ministers in his government, have not voluntarily decided to take reduced salaries for the next few months, as the country prepares for the coronavirus. Former president Ernest Bai Koroma and his ministers slashed their salaries in support of the Ebola crisis.
Charity begins at home and president Bio must now show true and honest leadership for all to see.