Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 April 2020:
Eight new cases were reported in the last twenty-four hours in Sierra Leone, amid rising political tension after dozens of rioting prisoners were gunned down by armed soldiers believed to be from the presidential guard, killing at least nine.
But in the last forty-eight hours, a total of twenty new COVID-19 cases have been reported, bringing the total number of cases in Sierra Leone to 124. Yesterday saw one of the highest increases so far, with 12 new confirmed cases reported. And the total number confirmed dead has risen to seven.
There has been controversy surrounding the number of deaths reported by the Emergency Response Team. Two days ago, the spokesman for the COVID-19 Response Team – Solomon Jamiru, claimed there was a total of five deaths, after a woman who had tested positive was classified as dead.
But yesterday, Mr Jamiru retracted, saying that the fifth coronavirus death he reported two days ago – 28th April, was incorrect. He said that although the woman had tested positive for the virus, she was not dead.
Solomon Jamiru was criticised for labelling the woman as “destitute”, when he said: “Sierra Leone now records its 5th death; the latest is that of a female destitute. Upon 117 call, the team found her outside Connaught Hospital in a critical condition…”
In response, Dr Sylvia Blyden – who herself is a trained medical doctor, (Photo) said: “This is an unpleasant, cavalier term to use – ‘Female destitute’. How can a government Spokesman refer to a dead citizen as “destitute” just because she laid outside a hospital in critical condition? It is likely her relatives took her there and fled to avoid being quarantined and abandoned by this government that is now on record to be forcefully quarantining women and children in compounds with no food.
“Also, this government makes COVID-19 disease so fearsome instead of communicating messages assuring populace that it’s a disease where up to 95% of infected patients survive. So citizens are now scared to associate themselves with anyone infected – especially as forcibly Quarantined Homes with women and children, like the one up Mount Aureol Terrace, Foulah Tong, are not being fed but left to starve for days.
“No matter the circumstances of how the deceased woman presented at Connaught Hospital, he should not use a negative attribute to describe her. Basic communication skills teaches that as long as a person is dead and cannot defend themselves, a Spokesman should completely refrain from using any negative description on such a dead person. Lawyer Jamiru should have simply stated that:- ‘a female patient unaccompanied by anyone was admitted in critical condition’. That is all. That is what an experienced government communicator would have written.”
But what is worrying about the pattern of the reported cases in the last few days, is the rapid rate of transmission in the Bonthe District of the country, with six of the eight new cases confirmed in the last twenty-four hours alone, recorded in Bonthe, bringing the total in that district to ten.
Nationally, more men are now reported to have been infected by COVID-19 – (with 68 cases) than women – 56 confirmed cases.