Amin Kef Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 08 May 2020:
Twenty-six new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Sierra Leone today, bringing the total to 257 cases. The total number of people that have so far died is 17, and 54 have recovered, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Today’s number of confirmed cases is one of the highest increases since the country recorded its index case on March 30, 2020, despite wide-ranging measures introduced by the authorities to prevent the rapid transmission of the virus.
“Epidemiological data and other evidence indicate that there is community transmission of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone,” President Julius Maada Bio said in a nationwide address prior to declaring the just concluded three-day lockdown (May 3-5).
One of the difficult challenges the country faces is to slow down the number of cases recorded every day, in order to flatten the COVID-19 curve at a level where the healthcare system could cope or not be overwhelmed.
According to the United Nations, Sierra Leone lost over 4,000 lives to the 2014 Ebola outbreak primarily because the healthcare system lacked capacity, and treatment centres were overwhelmed.
Nearly all of the Ebola deaths – about 11,000 in West Africa, were recorded in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
President Bio said his administration has decided to intensify contact tracing and detection; scale up testing and isolation; expand treatment, and undertake all other measures necessary to break COVID-19 transmission in the country.
The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), which was established during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, is actively trying to manage the pandemic.
Flights in and out of Sierra Leone have been banned and the military deployed to help enforce the closure of its borders with Guinea and Liberia. A nationwide curfew from 9pm to 6am is now intact as well as restrictions on inter-district movement.
Also, the activities of many establishments including schools, mosques and churches have been suspended indefinitely while social distancing, wearing of face mask in public and frequent handwashing are being enforced across the country.
1800 people still in quarantine is a worrying matter.
What a Dangerous advancement of Coronavirus in Sierra Leone. Such a sharp exponential growth of this virus is a wake up call for President Bio and the Bio SLPP to intensify testing, tracing and tracking. Lockdown and “coffee order” alone does not make sense. It is now clear that President Bio and the Bio SLPP are really struggling to slow down the spread of Coronavirus in Sierra Leone. The reason being, the government was very slow in its preparedness for this deadly, unknown and unpredictable Coronavirus in my view. More importantly, President Bio and Bio SLPP haven’t got the resources.
Again, lockdown without a massive test, Trace and track capacity is sort meaningless. Another thing that worries me is the admission capacity in terms of hospital beds if “push comes to shove”. We have seen Coronavirus patients lying on hospital corridors in some advanced and well to do nations. Another factor is the capacity of our mortuary right across the country. We have seen dead Coronavirus patients pilled up in the streets of countries like Ecuador for weeks. Can you imagine? Scary stuff! I hope President Bio and the Bio SLPP do the right thing so that our health system will not be overwhelmed when “push comes to shove”. God protect Sierra Leone from Coronavirus.