Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 April 2020:
Yesterday’s jaw-dropping eleven new cases found in Sierra Leone did not come as a surprise, given the very large number of people that are now being traced as primary and secondary contacts of the first wave of infected cases. And today’s additional four new cases were expected.
According to the ministry of information, “the four new cases were in quarantine and are linked to the previous cases.”
The constant worry though, is that this lull could be the calm before the eye of the storm hits the country, with its poor health system soon to be overwhelmed. Guinea, Liberia and Ivory Coast are fighting a losing battle against the virus.
There are unconfirmed reports today of at least eight nurses in isolation in Sierra Leone, waiting to be confirmed whether they too have contracted the virus.
Last night, a lawyer in Freetown – Alpha Bah went public to report that he and his wife have both now tested positive for the Covid-19 virus along with their housekeeper.
His wife is said to be a 5th year medical student at the country’s medical school – COMAHS. They have both gone public to reveal they are covid positive in a desperate need to assure the population that there is nothing shameful or stigmatising about the virus.
It has also been reported that the goalkeeper of F C Johansson football club in Freetown – Edmund Bangura, is suspected to have died of COVID-19, but yet to be confirmed by lab test.
When president Bio announced the arrival of the first covid-19 case in the country several weeks ago, he revealed that the carrier of the virus is a 37 year old male, arrived in the country from France on the 16th of March 2020, on a Brussels airline at the Lungi international airport; that he was placed into quarantine immediately upon arrival; and all primary and secondary contacts were being traced.
Thanks to the president’s disclosure of the patient’s vital personal data – age, gender, nationality, country of embarking, name of flight and date of arrival, many people were able to use this data to obtain the name of the person as well as his Facebook account, from which his and family photos were published on social media, for all the wrong reasons.
Thankfully also, the patient in question reported a few days ago, that he has completed treatment and has now tested negative. Hopefully this disclosure will go a long way to preventing stagmatisation and help promote national empathy and goodwill.
But since that disclosure by the president, State House has been reluctant to publish the personal data of covid-19 carriers and those suspected, prompting critics to denounce this move as hypocritical and double standards.
The debate as to whether the government should continue to reveal some of the personal data of all positive cases, just won’t go away.
This is even more pugnent, following increasing speculations – claiming that a senior government minister as well as two members of the president’s household, are being treated for the virus, after testing positive. All three are said to have flown together into the country last month, on the same flight as a group.
But this story was denied yesterday by State House officials, when questioned by the Sierra Leone Telegraph for comments.