Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2020:
What started a few weeks ago as a trickle, with just one confirmed case which for a couple of weeks gave hope that Sierra Leone was doing very well in preventing coronavirus from spreading, this week alone – so far, has seen a rise of three new cases.
This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 13. Twenty-seven percent of this total are female and sixty-three percent male.
The ministry of health today says that all 13 cases are in the treatment facility, and are in stable condition.
The total cumulative number of cases that have been in quarantine is 1,462; and the total number of persons currently in quarantine is 675. So far, 767 people have been discharged after completing their quarantine.
The government is urging members of the public to call 117 if they have fever, tiredness and cough. They are also recommmending the use of facemasks, as a preventive measure for persons who are symptomatic, so as to stop the spread of respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing.
“The Public is also advised to wash hands with soap and water frequently or use hand sanitizer; avoid touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; cough or sneeze into their upper arm or sleeve; and avoid close contact – arms stretched length – from others, especially in crowded areas and at social gatherings,” the ministry of health informs.
But there are concerns that some high profile, senior public officials are not setting a good example. If anything, they are seriously refusing to observe and respect the physical distancing protocol put in place by the government. (Photo above: Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, standing front-left, in a crowded market in the centre of Freetown yesterday).
Although the rate of increase in confirmed cases in Sierra Leone is much lower than in neighbouring Guinea and Liberia that have so far, jointly recorded over 460 cases, there is growing fear this increase may rapidly surge in the coming weeks.
The government of Sierra Leone had taken early preventive measures against the virus entering the country, by putting in place mandatory quarantine and self-isolation protocol for all arrivals at the Lungi International Airport. It also went further, banning all commercial flights into and out of the country.
The country’s borders with Liberia and Guinea have all been closed. But there are reports of several breaches of the border closure, especially from Guinea through the border town of Yenga.
Last Saturday saw the beginning of a 14 days – 9pm to 6am curfew across the country, as well as the banning of all people movement from district to district, except for the transportation of goods.