Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 July 2021:
It is difficult to assess the accuracy of the number of Covid related deaths reported by the government of Sierra Leone, in a country where hundreds of deaths are unreported daily to the authorities.
In the last week alone, there have been dozens of suspected Covid related deaths on social media, that are not accounted for by health officials.
But on Sunday, NaCOVERC Spokesman, Solomon Jamiru confirmed that the country’s COVID-19 response is at a critical phase with 7 deaths recorded in just 48 hours, and that the military’s 34 hospital can no longer accommodate more cases; and worst of all – the country’s healthcare system is not prepared if cases get critical.
With daily average number of recorded new cases now exceeding 80 and the confirmed number of deaths at 100, there are calls for the government to step up its testing and vaccination programmes.
The announcement early this week by the Mayor of Freetown that she has tested positive for Covid, has had an impact on the number of people going for the vaccine, with Covid vaccine doubters asking “why should the Mayor test positive after taking the vaccine”, ignoring the fact that the vaccine does not prevent Covid but lowers the risk of serious Covid illness and hospitalisation, if contracted.
Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr who has taken the vaccine said in her Facebook page that: “I have this evening tested positive for Covid-19. I am reaching out to all the people I had direct contact with over the past two days to inform them. I have self-isolated as per NACOVERC guidelines. I am feeling fine at the moment. As we are experiencing the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, I continue to encourage Sierra Leoneans to follow all NACOVERC guidelines”.
Last week, Mayor Aki Sawyerr attended the funeral of the late mother of former Attorney General Joseph Kamara in Makeni, where she was seen sitting with the former president and other senior politicians. (Photo above).
Many in the country are blaming the government for the rising number of cases, after the president two weeks ago published a public notice calling on the people of Sierra Leone to march to the national stadium in Freetown to celebrate the country’s victory over Benin at the African Cup football tournament.
Critics say that this event was a super-spreader of the Covid virus that is now aggressively transmitting across the capital Freetown, where the number of confirmed cases has reached 4,239.
According to yesterday’s report by NACOVERC, the total number of confirmed cases across the country, now stands at 5,575. One hundred people have been recorded dead from the virus. The total number of people arriving in the country with Covid has reached 229.
Yesterday, the US Embassy in Freetown announced that it has joined efforts with the government to speed up the vaccination process by offering to vaccinate its citizens in the country over the next two days, starting today Thursday.
“The U.S. Embassy in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone is providing Astra Zeneca vaccinations at the U.S. Embassy on a first come basis on July 1 and 2. American citizens are invited to receive vaccinations at this time. There will be guides at the entrance to direct persons to the area where vaccinations will be given. Please bring your passport or another form of identification on Thursday, July 1 – 10:00 AM to early afternoon; Friday, July 2 – 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Information will be provided about the time and logistics for obtaining a second dose of vaccine,” the notice reads.
As pressure mounts in State House for the president to legislate another State of Emergency Act to curb the rising number of Covid cases and deaths, opposition MP and parliamentary leader of the NGC party, Dr Kandeh Yumkella has warned the government not to yield to such pressure.
“We don’t need a State of Emergency for the Third Wave of COVID-19. As the number of persons confirmed with COVID-19 increases in the country, the Government must consider using the provisions of the Public Health Act 1960 as amended to help curb the virus.
“The Act gives the Minister of Health and Sanitation extensive powers, including to restrict movement of people in infected areas, quarantine and isolation of cases, surveillance, make rules for the whole or any part of Sierra Leone for the treatment of affected persons, for preventing the spread of infection and for the vaccination of persons.
“A State of Emergency should never be the first option, especially when we have adequate laws designed to address our situation. We must also continue to call on all Sierra Leoneans to do their part; remember to wear your mask, wash your hands often, maintain social distance and take the vaccine,” Yumkella said yesterday.