3 Days Lockdown Declared

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Head of National COVID-19 Response Team, (Rtd) Brig Gen. Hassan Kellie Conteh

By Foday Moriba Conteh

In order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the country, the Head of National COVID-19 Response Team, (Rtd) Brig Gen. Hassan Kellie Conteh, during a Ministry of Information and Communications Emergency Press Conference, convened on Wednesday 1st April, 2020 at Youyi Building in Freetown, disclosed that the Government of Sierra Leone is declaring a nationwide three days lockdown starting from Sunday 5th April 2020 to end on the 7th April, 2020.

According to him, the lockdown was declared in order for us as a nation to curtail the spread of the virus maintaining that at the moment the country has recorded two confirmed cases adding that with regards the 1st case it has been estimated that 130 contacts were established out of which 43 primary contacts were traced and 8 tested cases were proven to be negative saying the process is ongoing.

He noted that three of these contact persons have already travelled to Kenema and Kono and that during the lockdown they will ensure that they try to get all the contacts traced and tested.

He also stated that from Thursday 4th April, anyone arriving in Sierra Leone via boat or land from Guinea and Liberia will be held in custody for not less than 14 days.

He admonished the public that if community transmission has started, safety measures will be made more stringent stressing the need to avoid crowded areas, practice social distancing, hand washing among other preventive measures.

(Rtd) Brig Gen. Hassan Kellie Conteh said that passengers in all vehicles should be limited to the barest minimum
underscoring that taxis should have 2 passengers at the back and 1 in the front.
He furthered that Kekeh must have 2 passengers, in Poda-Poda/Buses/Mini-buses no standing is allowed, there should be no passengers on the middle seats and that all vehicles should have sanitizers for their passengers, that ferries & boats should have the barest minimum of passengers and social distancing must be practiced and enforced on ferries.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Prof. Alpha Wurie also informed that gathering that three 3 ventilators are  now in the country at Choithram Hospital, adding that the Government of Sierra Leone has procured 8 more ventilators but they have not yet arrived.

He said that the Africa Union will be donating 11 additional ventilators and that the Government intends to procure up to 50 more ventilators in order to fight the virus in the country and that only critical cases will be treated with the use of ventilators.

He disclosed that Jack Ma donated 20,800 test kits which are now in the country. “Using approved methodology these are sufficient for testing 4,000 persons and 3,500 test kits are expected from WAHO although there are 1,000 already in the country,” he intimated.

In another development in a position paper dated 1st April, 2020 from the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association it was recommended that the three day Lockdown (i.e. Limiting movement of citizens) be extended to 14 (fourteen) days based on the known disease incubation period.

They also recommended that PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and N95 masks are available at all health facilities for healthcare workers and that all the 26 (twenty six) doctors and staff at the Ola During Children’s Hospital are potential contacts of Case 2 and should be isolated and tested after quarantine, whether symptomatic or not.

He noted that Secret societies are banned until further notice, that religious houses should not be operational until further notice, funerals restricted to family members of not more than 20 people,  weddings limited to immediate family and during burials the practice of washing bodies must be discouraged until the scientists confirm whether the virus can be transmitted from corpses or not.

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