By Esther Wright
The Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, and Minister of Health, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, paid an unannounced visit to the three quarantine facilities designated for the coronavirus in Lungi, the northern town with the country’s only international airport on 17 March 2020.
The two senior government officials were asked by His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio to immediately travel across the sea to get first-hand information on the status of people being accommodated in places transformed into such confinement facilities and to further gauge the preparedness level of health workers at that entry point.
The Minister of Health encouraged people, who had arrived into the country by air from different parts of the world, to allow to be quarantined as part of the measures in place to manage any possible case of the coronavirus, adding that they might be aware of the strangeness of the infectious disease ravaging the world partly because of the difficulty in detecting it without having to quarantine them for 14 days, the incubation period for the coronavirus.
Professor Wurie stated that so far that was one of the most effective ways to make sure that people coming from different countries protect themselves and their families.
“We started quarantining passengers from 4 February 2020, but this is the first time we are having a larger number of passengers in quarantine. We have released 68 people and none of them showed any sign of the virus. We have not said you are infected with the virus, but also we have no reason to believe that you don’t have the virus. We want you to show this country that you are patriots by staying away from society for 14 days, after which everyone will be allowed to go about their normal business,” he explained.
The Chief Minister, Professor Francis told passengers that their instruction from the President was to visit the said places and see what obtained on the ground, adding that the coronavirus was a global problem challenging bigger economies with advanced and sophisticated healthcare systems.
“Sierra Leone is the only country within the Man River countries that has not recorded any case of this deadly virus. We are here to assure all of you that we are trying our best as a government to ensure that there is no case of coronavirus in Sierra Leone. But if accidentally we record any, we will be on better grounds to eradicate it immediately and entirely,’’ he said.
He assured of three meals per day in all quarantine facility, adding that all essential items that would keep them safe during the 14-day period would be provided by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
He further stated that it was difficult for people to be quarantined, especially when they would have travelled for long and wanted to see their family members. He, therefore, admonished them to show the highest level of compliance and ensure that the protocols and guidelines stated by the World Health Organization for people in quarantine were observed.