Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2020:
Sierra Leone has today recorded 8 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 43, after six people who successfully completed their treatment at the military hospital in Freetown, were declared free of the virus and discharged yesterday.
There are 37 confirmed cases in isolation centres where they are kept under observation, but are in stable condition; and a further 567 kept in quarantine – the ministry of health reports today.
But there was confusion this afternoon, when the presidential spokesman reported that president Julius Maada was to deliver an address to the nation at 2pm today. This report was then amended with a change of time to 4pm. And at 4pm, there was another change of time to tomorrow 11am.
It is not certain what the president will announce tomorrow, but it would not come as a surprise should the president declare another lockdown, given the rate at which the virus is now spreading in the community.
But with Ramadan starting in four days’ time, will the president risk the massive public outcry and resistance he may face, given the huge economic consequences and impact on the millions of Muslims who will be fasting for the next four weeks.
Abubakarr Alphajor Jalloh – the first case reported by president Bio about three weeks ago, wrote this:
“Today, Sunday April 19 2020, almost three weeks after I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and was admitted at the 34 Military Hospital in Wilberforce, I have been discharged and declared virus free, after several negative test results.
“I would like to first and foremost thank Allah for sparing my life and giving me the strength to fight the virus. Today, I can finally return home and see my family after almost six weeks. Let me also use this opportunity to thank all the medical staff at the Treatment Centre for their tireless efforts, dedication and sacrifice.
“I owe my life to you and I am forever in your debt. I must also thank my wife and family for their strength, love, support and prayers during this very difficult period. They gave me a reason to fight and get better. I could not have done it without having them in my corner. To all my friends and well-wishers, thank you very much for your words of support and encouragement and for your constant prayers. I appreciate each and every one of you.
“When I left Sierra Leone for France some six weeks ago for a business trip, I had no idea this is how things would play out. When in agreement with my wife, I decided to cut short my trip, to run home and be with my family before our airspace was closed, little did I know I would eventually end up in hospital and be fighting for my life.
“Being among the first batch of Sierra Leoneans to be quarantined, I was happy that all necessary precaution was being taken, while also looking forward to going home and being with my wife and kids after the quarantine period. Alas, Allah had other plans.
“Looking back, I hold no regret in making an additional sacrifice and refusing to go home after my quarantine period, but rather to present myself at the 34 Military Hospital for testing, as I had experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19. It was the right and responsible thing to do. It was what was in the best interest of my family, friends, community and the nation at large.
“During my time at the treatment centre, I became aware of all the attacks directed towards me and my family, including some very heart-breaking comments on social media, in a bid to stigmatize me.
“To all persons engaged in that act, please understand that the fear of being stigmatized will stop people from seeking the medical help they need as soon as they experience symptoms consistent with the virus. This is not something we can afford. Corona is real and we have to support government efforts to stop its spread.
“On my part, as a practicing Muslim, I have already forgiven all those people who wished bad on me and advocated for my family and I to be punished. I will continue to tell myself that in a state of panic and mass hysteria, people said things they have now regretted.
“Finally, let me end by stating that this virus is real. I have experienced it. It is not something I wish on anybody. I encourage every Sierra Leonean therefore to follow the health guidelines put out by the government. Do not take any chances.
“If you however do contract the virus and start showing symptoms or you become aware of having come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, please call the emergency health line (117) and ask for help. We all owe it to our families, friends and neighbours. Together, we can beat this virus. May Allah bless all health workers and may Allah bless you all.”
As concerns grow for the welfare and health of the country’s health workers, the government yesterday announced that it will be sanitising wards and operation theatres at the main maternity hospital in Freetown – the Ola During Children’s Hospital, where several nurses and staff are believed to have been infected with the virus.
Whilst it is not clear whether the health authorities have traced and contacted all those admitted at the hospital and visitors before evacuating the hospital, the ministry of health has confirmed that dozens of nurses who were quarantined at the hospital, have been moved to the medical school (COMAHS) hostel at Jui, after complaining of conditions at the hospital such as lack of water and food.
But several other nurses are still locked up in the hospital, awaiting their COVID-19 test results. Four are said to have tested positive and now at the treatment centre where they are receiving treatment.