Sierra Leone’s Lungi International Airport reopens Wednesday 22 July – says President Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 July 2020:

Last night, president Bio announced the reopening of the country’s international airport, as well as the resumption of religious worship. Speaking on national television, the president said:

“Fellow citizens, in our fight to protect against and curtail COVID-19, we have taken well-considered measures to protect lives and also sustain livelihoods through an inclusive and rigorous consultative process with stakeholders and experts. Throughout, we have also urged strict compliance with all public health directives.

“Citizens must take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19. Persons who are refusing to comply with health directives are exposing themselves, their loved ones, and their communities to the grave risk of infection and possible death. I have strongly urged the leadership of the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) to take all necessary actions to enforce full compliance with all public health directives.

“Based on expert advice on the aerosol transmission of COVID-19 and the possible risk of rapid community infection among congregations, we advisedly closed all places of worship. I have since then held multiple consultations with the Inter-Religious Council, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health officials, NACOVERC officials, experts, and other stakeholders.

“The leadership of the Inter-religious Council drafted proposals covering infection prevention protocols, capacity management, social distancing, and social mobilisation, among other things. Experts have closely examined the proposed measures and advised no objections to those proposals.

“I am therefore pleased to announce that effective Monday, 13th of July 2020, all mosques, churches, and other places of worship shall be open for congregation and worship. Additionally, starting Monday, 13th of July, curfew hours will be eased from 2300hrs to 0500hrs (or 11PM to 5AM).

“NACOVERC will announce a comprehensive list of enforceable measures as proposed by the Inter-religious Council. Congregation leaders are expected to help enforce full compliance with all measures at their places of worship.

“Ministry of Transport and Aviation officials, Ministry of Health officials, experts, and engaged stakeholder groups have audited proposed new processes and simulated all possible scenarios for arrivals and departures at Lungi International Airport.

“I am pleased to announce that Lungi International Airport will be re-opened for all scheduled commercial flights on Wednesday, 22nd July 2020. NACOVERC will soon announce a comprehensive list of guidelines and protocols for air travel to and from Sierra Leone.

“The easing of restrictions does not mean an easing of the threat of COVID-19. COVID-19 is still highly infectious and deadly. I urge every Sierra Leonean to continue to strictly adhere to all healthcare directives and to continue to play his or her part in protecting against and curtailing the spread of COVID-19. I thank you and God bless Sierra Leone.”

Yesterday’s announcement by the president is widely welcomed, as fears have been growing about the impact the lockdown is having on the country’s economy. It is estimated that since March 2020, Sierra Leone’s economy has shrunk by more than 30%, due mainly to the massive decline in overseas visitors and tourists, mining and agriculture production and exports.

You can watch the president’s message here:

12 Comments

  1. It suits me just fine if APC haters like Andrew and his crew choose to belittle themselves and their inglorious SLPP by consistently spewing out nothing but one-liners on this noble forum, where men of good sense and substance like Sahr Matturi, Alimamy Turay and Young4na never cease to outshine, outclass and overshadow even those considered to be the brightest SLPP minds on this forum. Gentlemen please be reminded that uncoordinated one-liners and incoherent utterings can usually be heard coming from only itsy-bitsy suckling infants(lol)

  2. Thanks to the Almighty, life is slowly and gradually returning to normal again. I personally believe that the narrative of “D Gron Dry” that the destructive propaganda APC party were spreading, is now over because during the just concluded lockdown, people have realized what is the true meaning of that narrative. Based on the reality, people are now appreciative of the New Direction government. Hopefully we will soon join our loved ones and reunite with them.

  3. One observation though, Sierra Leone has done a good job with tackling and stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Right from early March, the president went on air and advised people to stop hand shakes. Within a few weeks, people travelling to the country were quarantined for 2 weeks. The isolation centres should have been better maintained though, because people suffered from lack of food and general comfort. Before final release they were tested again. The test, trace and isolate system was done from the onset. If a person tested positive, all their contacts were traced and isolated where necessary. Within a further few weeks, Lungi Airport was closed to the outside world. As a result, the number of cases and fatalities was much less than in the industrialized countries. I think another thing that has helped Sierra Leone and probably many other African countries, is the young population. Young people when they get the illness, dont get desperately ill and sometimes have a mild cold which eventually disappears.

    Compare this with industrialized countires like UK. Throughout the pandemic, many airports in the UK have remained open for flights from any country in the world to fly in even from China. In addition, none of the passengers who entered UK was tested or quarantined. Some sensible passengers after arrival in the UK, isolated themselves for 2 weeks in their houses of their own volition. However many did not and went walking, jogging etc. Now that the horse has bolted, the UK government wants passengers arriving in the UK to isolate. In my opinion, it is a little too late. This is evident in the number of deaths just from coronavirus from March to now. It is a staggering 44,000 deaths and counting. Test, trace and isolate system should have been strictly implemented -adhered to from the onset. The UK and Italy have a large aging population, that are very susceptible to the virus and they have died in huge numbers.
    The USA is a special case and has fared disastrously. Almost 140,000 people dead and counting. The USA also did not use the test, trace and isolate system until much later.

    So Sierra Leone and other African countries should pat themselves on the back for acting quickly. I only hope that cases do not skyrocket after the borders open in two weeks time.

    • Many thanks, Patricia, for your brilliant comment. As you rightly said, the population of many African countries are young and that spared most of them from a catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic. However, African countries should not be complacent, since, COVID-19 is unpredictable and can mutate for the better or worse. They should keep upgrading their health systems continuously. Bottom line, S***hole countries did better than the US in terms of slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in my view. Is it not excellent to be happy living in S***hole countries these days? God help America in fighting COVID-19 and help Sierra Leone with common sense lockdown ease procedures. Thank you very much, Patricia, as always for your participation on this great platform and may God bless you.

  4. Would a tourist or business person in these times travel to another country knowing what happened in the past? That country’s airlines can stop everything at a instant and you can be left stranded again. There will be no repatriation flights to one’s country this time. Is it worth the risk? These countries and airlines must make it clear that no mattet what, you will have a plane and an airport open to take you home. Then if that’s the case, tourists and business people, will venture out to all the beautiful countries out there.

    • Adding to that dilemma, makes it worse and an excellent nightmare for tourists and business people. Sierra Leone has no Hot Air Balloons, let alone Airbuses or Boeing 777s etc. One of my sources said to me recently, that the former APC government was seriously engaged in bringing Sierra Leone Airlines to its past glory. That was why they negotiated the construction of the new Airport. But when the Bio SLPP came to power to rebrand Sierra Leone in a violent image, we were left with the “Gron Dry” wondering how to reach planet Mars. Can you imagine that? God bless you Man from abroad and have a lovely day.

  5. This President has just made another big mistake by allowing religious activities to commence in these critical times when everyone is still at risk,and susceptible to attack from a virus that lurks and stalks its victims like a predator that feeds and thrives on human flesh.There are still no formidable health structures in place for the purposes of effectively combating the dreadful disease,and there is a short supply of trained medical personnel that are familiar with Covid19,yet these wishful thinkers believe that it is okay for crowds that may be infected by the virus to frequently assemble themselves,and everyone will be just dandy and fine.

    Its no surprise to me that these maleficent occult masters now in power do not have a clue that prayer in its purest forms is that which is done in reverence,silence,and solitude.If Almighty God is truly omnipresent,then what’s the urgency in trying to get churches,mosques and temples to resume services so indiscriminately? Who is it among you gullible millions in our beloved nation that seriously believes that Heaven is a lost cause without someone going frequently to a religious place of worship?

    And who wants a holy place of worship to be transformed into battleground between good and evil,where the belligerent forces of Hell in search of souls are finally able to accomplish their eerie creepy objective of extinguishing lives,through Covid19 like candles being easily snuffed out by a violent storm? My goodness! A tottering ramshackle house called SALONE that was about to collapse has now been fast-tracked towards complete destruction by our inept unthinking President…Yep we have opened all gates,doors and windows to the invisible,unmerciful violent storm by jumping straight from frying pan into blazing fire.

  6. If Lungi international Airport is reopening, I wonder how much thought have been given to draw up the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to visit our country? If so, when will our government make the list available before the reopening? Also will people coming form those hot spot countries, like South Africa and Egypt be subjected to two weeks quarantine? I think, given the reckless behaviour of president Trump, and the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, where COVID19 is running out of control in some states, the Sierra Leonean government should take the initiative, and recommend to ECOWAS member states to ban United States citizens from entering our country until we start to see infection rates go down. So all west African states are singing from the same hymn sheet.

    The western press that like to paint Africa as the dark continent, where they predicted ten million Africans will die from this pandemic, which is very much their wish, haven’t borne fruit. I have to say thank God Africa, with all it poor infrastructure and health problems, has handled this pandemic better than our rich partners. Individually, states wise, more Africans have died as a result of COVID19 in these western countries than their country of origin.

  7. Very sound speech, but not impressive in my view. What the President did not tell me is how grateful he was to the solid rock EBOLA infrastructures left behind, that the Bio SLPP profited from in fighting and slowing down the progress of COVID-19. The situation should have been far worse if the former APC government under the bulletproof political leadership or former President Ernest Bai Koroma, had spent the money provided for the fight against EBOLA to buy 30 SUVs at $60,000 each, motorbikes and other items meaningless to the battle against COVID-19.

    Yes, the airport is going to reopen. The Bio SLPP needs money to survive. Have Sierra Leoneans been informed about the COVID-19 rules in all countries of destination? What is interesting to see is how the guidelines in churches and mosques will work. Tourists entering the country know very well what will happen to them on their return back home. Some have to be quarantined for two weeks or more in their respective countries for visiting countries like Sierra Leone. So, don’t bet on the influx of tourists just yet. God help the Bio SLPP with the lockdown easing measures, protect Sierra Leone, and it’s hard-hit economy. TBC.

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