Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 April 2020:
Sierra Leone’s minister of health – Dr Alpha Wurie has in the last hour confirmed on national TV that a second person has been infected with the coronavirus, but not connected to the index case announced by president Bio yesterday.
This second person has been named as Dr. Nellie Bell, who works at the Aspen Hospital in Freetown and also lives in the country’s overpopulated capital – Freetown.
The government is now said to be taking urgent steps to trace all contacts of Dr. Nellie Bell.
Dr. Bell herself, posted this message on her local doctor’s forum, giving notice that she has contracted the virus, but said she doesn’t know when, how and where she got it:
“Dear all, I am sorry to announce that I have been tested positive for the Coronavirus. I started having mild headache and weakness Sunday night, I sneezed once that night and on Monday evening the sneezing and running nose intensified.
“So Tuesday morning I isolated myself in my office and got tested, although I thought it was a regular cold. As I am a part of a pillar of the national response team I am exposed and will expose a whole lot of other people if I did not know if I was positive or not and kept going to meetings, so I decided to think of the bigger picture and get myself tested.
“I don’t have any recollection of being in contact with someone that is positive and I have not travelled recently. The rest is history. I am on my way to 34military hospital now. I trust in God and I know that he will take me through.
“In my job as a medical doctor I care for people and I have been the strictest of persons in terms of IPC, God only knows how I contracted it. For those, who were in contact with me please get yourself tested if you have symptoms, otherwise isolate yourself. I am now asking you pray for me and the whole of Sierra Leone! Thank God I got myself tested. Stay at home and take social distancing seriously. God is always in control, in Jesus Name!!”
Sierra Leone now has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, after several weeks of recording zero cases. But questions are now being asked, whether in the absence of mass or selective testing in place, the government had missed an opportunity in the last couple of months to verify its own claims of Sierra Leone not having any case at all.
By failing to carry out those tests, has the government inadvertently allow the virus to spread?
This question is important, in the light of Dr Bell who has not travelled outside of Sierra Leone, not come into contact with anyone – as far as she is aware – who has recently come from a coronavirus affected country.
So, what the government is going to do now, is anyone’s guess.
Yesterday, the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, replied to a tweet posted by president Bio about the index case announced yesterday. The editor asked him how many testing kits and PPEs does the government have. There has been no reply.