Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 April 2020:
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone this morning rises to 7, and the people of Sierra Leone end their three days State imposed lockdown, the Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, is under immense pressure from calls for her to be tested for the deadly coronavirus – COVID-19.
The Mayor was in London several weeks ago, where she met and shook hands with two people who have since tested positive for the virus – His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Mayor Aki Sawyerr met the two Princes in London on 10th of March 2020, whilst attending a WaterAid conference where she received an award as water champion.
On March 19th Prince Albert announced that he had tested positive for the virus. HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) announced he had tested positive on March 25th.
Critics say that although the Mayor claims that she went into self-isolation at home immediately upon her arrival in Freetown after meeting and shaking hands with the Princes in London, she should have shown good leadership and transparency by taking the COVID-19 test to give confidence to the people of Sierra Leone that she is not carrying the virus without showing symptoms.
Writing on social media yesterday, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden – who is a former minister of social welfare, said this: “Freetown Mayor, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, is another official who is going to be deeply blamed. After her ill-advised trip to Corona-ravaged London during which she vainly announced that she had discussions with Prince of Monaco and Prince of Britain (who both later tested positively for Corona Virus), the Freetown Mayor returned to Sierra Leone and did “self-isolation”.
“However, she, as the First Citizen of Freetown, has not been ethical enough to announce to Freetown residents whether she has done the test and reassure Freetown that she is not one of up to 25% of asymptomatic carriers of the Corona Virus.
“Instead, this weekend, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was all over the place including, most annoyingly, in my own neighbourhood mingling with my neighbours whilst refusing to practice social distancing! She was not even wearing a mask when she refused to practice social distancing.
“Mayor Aki Sawyerr is a candidate for either asymptomatic or symptomatic carriage and she should have tested herself and publicly announced her status before she came out to mingle with us. Now she may have infected other Freetown residents during the time the Virus was still in her system like the Italian gentleman was doing.”
Speaking on a live TV broadcast yesterday in Freetown, Mayor Aki Sawyerr was adamant she will not be taking the test. She said she was advised by the Chief Medical Officer that there is no need to take the test after isolating herself for 7 days and showing no symptoms:
Raising questions about several expatriates and Sierra Leoneans who may have arrived in the country in March with the possibility of carrying the virus without showing any symptoms, Dr Blyden said: “But we cannot blame the Freetown Mayor alone. The main blame goes to the policy makers of the Central Government of President Bio, who are executing policies that are not transparent – enhancing the possible rate of transmission of this deadly virus via undisclosed contacts and asymptomatic virus carriers.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt today from uncomfirmed sources, after several days of rumours and speculation, that the Italian expatriate who is believed to be the sixth confirmed case in Sierra Leone is Riccardo Bunson, who is said to be the Director of Sierra Leone’s Emergency Ambulance Service.
It is understood that Mr Bunson whose identity had been kept secret by the authorities In Sierra Leone, arrived in Freetown via Lungi international airport last month, and was not tested at the time for COVID-19 to ensure that all contacts will be traced and isolated. This failure, many in the country now believe, has placed the lives of hundreds of people at risk of transmitting the virus.
And there are speculations that Mr Bunson may have infected the second confirmed case – Dr Bell, who is now believed to be recovering very well.
So, as pressure mounts on Freetown Mayor – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr to get herself tested for the virus, Sierra Leone has today recorded its 7th confirmed case. He is believed to be a Sierra Leonean who arrived in the country last month and had been in quarantine.
The government is now considering placing the country in a further fourteen days lockdown. But with several public beatings meted out by the police and military on poor citizens in various parts of Freetown, there are calls for the security forces to avoid violation of human rights, while going about the business of enforcing the lockdown to save lives.