Rodney Michael: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 October 2020:
There has been no vocal advocate and supporter of Sierra Leone’s (National Covid-19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) than me. I have defended and supported them in public and in privately and written several articles in support of their handling of the COVID crisis.
I have boastfully argued that they have handled the situation better than most other countries in the world and still stand by that view.
However, I am a bit lost as to the logic in their recent release temporarily lifting curfew for four weeks but retaining all other restrictions, particularly restrictions relating to the tourism sector like Bars and Night Clubs and other entertainment events.
To start with, even before lifting the curfew, the control or monitoring of these restrictions was difficult. Bars and restaurants and entertainment centers operated fully with little or no regard to the restrictions.
Funerals had hundreds of sympathisers and weddings and parties the same. The structures to monitor all of these activities is just non-existent.
Some of us have been in a dilemma, wanting the curfew lifted to allow for re-employment of all workers who were laid off, especially in the tourism industry, and for life to be returned to normalcy as the economy actually needs normalcy to continue its recovery.
Some of us also believe, probably against security experts opinions, that lifting of curfew will reduce the armed robbery and crime rates. This is just based on personal views and not on any statistical evidence.
But of course we are also aware that the lifting of curfew could ignite a spike…but the question is what could.be done at night to ignite the spark that has already not happened during the day time?
No bars, or restaurants or night club or entertainment centers can ever pose the same threat as the public markets for example.
There are thousands visiting the markets daily and with no mask or social distancing laws enforced. The risk there is far greater than any other activity could ever possess.
It is therefore illogical to lift the curfew and retain the restrictions. It is not in the best interest of the economy nor the country. There is no greater risk to opening up the entertainment industry than we currently face in the evenings and in other crowded places like the markets etc.
We do not have the structures to monitor all of these places and our people have opted to follow the self-protection guidelines.
It is now globally agreed the best way to avoid COVID is self-care and prevention, and if it so happens one gets it then so be it.
The infection rate for Covid is lower than most other diseases in Sierra Leone, and the death rate seems even lower, even as bad as the virus is and has been made out to be.
For example 4% of the population, that is 4 people out of every 100 people is believed to have some of form of Hepathitis, and that is a more dangerous disease than Covid.
But we are yet to place a National Emergency on Hepathitis which is well overdue. As we focus on Covid, and if NACOVERC has decided in its wisdom to lift the curfew, let us shift from restrictions to guidelines and education like we did with HIV when it was a crisis.
Nacoverc has done extremely well overall, and every member of the NACOVERC team should be honoured with one of the Insignia Awards. They should now return us to normalcy and invest in education and sensitzation on self prevention guidelines.
Lifting curfew and retaining restrictions, which are violated at will during the day, is not logical!
I am a friend, not a foe! I mean well!