Mohamed A. Jalloh: 16 May 2020:
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Sierra Leone on 31 March 2020, and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China).
The Mano River Union Countries registered their first corona Index on 11 March 2020. Guinea has been its epicentre with 2,531 cases reported as of 16th May 2020 and registered 15 fatalities. Ivory Coast – the first Nation in the region that reported its infected case has registered 2,017 with 24 COVID -19 deaths.
Though Liberia confirmed its first case two weeks ahead of Sierra Leone, there are encouraging signs they are slowing the spread of COVID-19 than any member Nation in the region. To date, they have 223 total confirmed cases and 20 deaths.
The increase of coronavirus infection rate in Sierra Leone is unprecedented, with total number of cases now at 462 and worrisome 29 deaths. The country has had two full lockdowns of three-days each, and remains in a state of partial lockdown, with curfews in place every evening. Borders have been closed since March 27. The major focus in response to COVID-19 is to get the right messages out there.
Many conspiracy theorists and the bulk of the population don’t believe the authority, neither do they believe in the existence of coronavirus in Sierra Leone.
President Bio made a huge call and appointed a team of Scientific Experts to lead the fight against COVID-19, yet we are struggling as a Nation to break the chain of transmission.
Why is Sierra Leone losing so many lives compared to its Neighbours?
The government is yet to approve its State of Emergency regulations in parliament. It has not been able to properly connect with its people. Its facing huge compliance challenge. Political tension is also not helping the cause in the fight against the pandemic.
Liberia implemented four weeks lockdown (April 11 – May 8 ) and still has a curfew in place to slow down the spread of corona. The impact is immense.
Sierra Leone only had six days lockdown with inter-district restrictions. Quarantine facilities are a big challenge. Sierra Leone’s Health workers are doing a great job even without adequate PPE and other medical logistics. There are reports of nurses yet to receive their salaries.
Conditions in quarantine homes and treatment centres are nothing to talk about. The EOC at yesterday’s press briefing was forced to admit those failings on the part of Government. No clear report has been given as to where most of the deaths are coming from.
The good news, Sierra Leone’s testing capacity is over 100 a day. In the last 24 hours, around 173 tests were carried out with a report of 15 positive cases.
Guinea has recorded over 2,000 cases than Sierra Leone, and has the lowest COVID-19 fatality rate of 15, with encouraging recovery figures as well of 895.
Liberia’s recovery rate is around 96% of total cumulative COVID-19 cases, while 106 infected persons so far have recovered in Sierra Leone from the disease.
The socio-economic implications of the pandemic is huge. So why not have a full 14 days in the Western area of Sierra Leone and its environs where community transmission is higher? Western Urban and Rural account for over 387 infected cases.
President Bio (Photo) needs a clear vision and redirect his focus to combat the corona disease. The World Health Organization has yet to approve the Madagascar Organic medication to cure Corona. But the same WHO is saying the disease will live with the world for long periods. The best bet is prevention, sensitization and enforcement of regulations.
The reality is that Sierra Leone’s Free health care has been exposed. The country is still unprepared to wage war on corona. People are dying with so many unanswered questions, including whether they are indeed corona related.
Sadly, majority of these deaths are outside COVID-19 treatment centres. Public confidence is fragile.
It’s time we come together as a nation to defeat the common enemy by breaking the rate of transmission. Social distancing – declaration of two weeks lockdown in Freetown must now be implemented.