Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 April 2020:
Just hours after the Sierra Leone Telegraph reported an increase of just two COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone, which were confirmed yesterday afternoon, in the last hour the country’s ministry of health has announced that eleven new cases have today been found.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone to 26, from 15 yesterday. This is the highest rate of increase recorded in one day, and the day is not yet over.
Twenty of the reported cases so far were found in Freetown; four in Port Loko – at the quarantine centre, who may not necessarily be residents of Port Loko; and two in Kenema.
And for the first time, the total number of female COVID-19 cases have surpassed the total for male – with 14 females and 12 males..
There could be several more cases reported later today, or tomorrow morning as a total of 531 people are now in quarantine.
The next fourteen days will be crucial. And the tracing of both primary and secondary contacts must now be ramped up along with testing.
According to reports, majority of the 11 new cases are believed to have been infected by case number two who is a doctor. But the question is: Who infected case number two?
There are reports also that one of the primary contacts of yesterday’s reported case – a lab technician found in Kenema, has been confirmed positive. It is not clear whether this person is the girl friend of the lab technician, or his herbalist that was picked up yesterday.
This very steep rise in the rate of transmission in Sierra Leone comes as the World Health Organisation warns that “Africa could become the next epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak,” with about 1,000 deaths and more than 18,000 infections recorded across the continent so far.
The organisation’s Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, told the BBC that the organisation had witnessed the virus spreading from capital cities to “the hinterland” in South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana.
She said WHO is focusing on prevention rather than treating the virus because African countries don’t have the capacity to treat many coronavirus patients.
“We want to minimise the proportion of people who get to the point of needing critical care in an ICU, because we know that these types of facilities are not adequate by any means in the majority of African countries,” she said. “I have to say the issue of ventilators is one of the biggest challenges that the countries are facing.”
Is this the new normal for Sierra Leone, as the president now goes into a cabinet meeting to decide what to do next.