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.
That’s the main problem we have in Sierra Leone, nepotism. It’s so common to see one section of the community being treated with a “red carpet” welcome, while the others are subjected to strict, hard and fast rules. Please Madam Mayor for the sake of transparency, and to help others in your team, I’ll strongly suggest you take the COVID-19 test. Please DO IT, NOW. Thanks.
Freedom deals with such rights as freedom of movement, equality before the law, the right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of opinion and expression; peaceful assembly, freedom of association, participation in public affairs and elections, and protection of minority rights. It prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; slavery and forced labor, arbitrary arrest or detention, arbitrary interference with privacy, war propaganda, discrimination, and advocacy of racial or religious hatred.
The buck stops with the president. The role of government is to serve and protect and make sure citizens remain secured in their persons. For the Army and Police publicly abusing civilians in their actual home quarters makes me sick to the heart and on-lookers should denounce as appalling. The president or those in charge should reprimand the police and the army personnel involved since they are not judges and executioners.
Sometimes I think we just can’t wait to give an excuse to showcase the hatred that we have for each other. It’s not merely a coincidence that we’re are in the situation that we’re in socioeconomically, and that we have yet been able to make any significant stride over the decades since we gained flagship autonomy. I think there’s a something deep seated wrong with the way we happen to look at ourselves. That man in the last video clip on floor could not have been any different from a dog in the eyes of the law enforcers who were beaten on him. Why are we so cruel to ourselves as a people?
Another thing, please leave the mayor of Freetown out of you guy’s political charade. She is a honest soul and does not want to be caught playing dishonest games against her own people just because you guys want her to. So please leave her alone and let her go about her business.
If the Mayor met with anyone, who was later tested positive for Coronavirus, then, she should be tested in my view. She might have the disease, but without showing symptoms. I believe she will do the right thing. No doubt in my mind about that. She is just a star and one of the country’s IRON LADIES. Such unfortunate situations are happening, because the Bio Administration was not prepared and not transparent about testing travelers arriving in the country, from the start of the government’s isolation policies. If you have money or in a higher position of government, then, no isolation. Can you imagine the corruption? SAD.
Concerning the behavior of the Police and Military personnel on peaceful citizens, the video clips we are watching is not good. They should arrest people violating the lockdown orders rather than beating them publicly. I believe, the Police officers, might have copied the dirty tricks from the soldiers. The soldiers should not have been on the streets. But in general, with some few isolated incidents carried out by a few undisciplined officers in different parts of the city / country, the security situation was handled very well. Thumbs up for our new IG Sovula. I believe, he would watch these video clips on this glorious platform and question the officers involved, through the right police chain of command.
I don’t even understand why military officers were deployed to carry out police duties. Again, another waste of resources. Let the Police do their jobs. The military are not necessary for the time being. Mr. President, please allow the Police to do what is a policeman’s job and the Military, what is a soldier’s job. Thank you very much IG Sovula for giving the right orders to your men during this lockdown period. There was no violence or barbarity although some of your men were involved in the violation of the human rights of some of our citizens.
Again, I have every confidence, that you would rectify that anomaly. You have done what others failed to do in a very short time in office due to interference from the executive. God bless IG Sovula. You are the only winner in this first lockdown process. The rising sun will rise again.
Hey bra. Matturi, this writing langer!
True. Thank you very much Mr. Tamba Komba for your observation. I’ll take note the next time. God bless you.
Doc. Blyden herself had blatantly quarrelled with Government for suspending all official travels abroad as the threat of the deadly virus loomed large across the globe. To quarrel with Mayor Sawyer at this time for refusing to be tested for the same virus after her return from her official travel abroad, which was allowed afterward, clearly means that politically, Doc is most quarrelsome at the slightest opportunity!!!
The Mayor needs to do the ethical and right action; get tested. It’s a win, win scenario. The mayor will know her status and get quick medical support if requires, while the broader community in which she resides and mingles is protected. Absolutely no reason to do the contrary.