By Amin Kef Sesay
In a Press Release dated 16th March 2020, the Government of Sierra Leone says it is gravely concerned over the outbreak and spread of the Coronavirus Disease, with its devastating consequences globally.
It furthered that while no case has been reported in Serra Leone, confirmed cases have been reported in both Guinea and Liberia, our immediate neighbours. “In order to prevent the Coronavirus Disease from reaching Sierra Leone, His Excellency the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio has, among other measures, directed the following, with immediate effect:
A ban on overseas travel for ALL Government Officials. The General Public is also advised to restrain, as far as possible, from overseas travel until further notice. Public gatherings should not be attended by more than One Hundred (100) persons.
Containing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease is the responsibility of every citizen. Therefore, the general public is advised to limit social contacts to the barest minimum, and to alert Healthcare Service Providers of any emergencies,” the Release ended.
In adherence to the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR), the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has activated the Emergency Operation Centre (EOCJ at level 2, to coordinate the emergency preparedness and response activities with the goal of preventing importation of cases and mounting a robust response whenever necessary.
Consequent upon resolutions adopted at the Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting (IMC) which was conducted on the 2nd March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is pleased to inform the general public, diplomatic missions and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) about the following additional precautionary measures:
- All Citizens and residents in Sierra Leone are strongly advised to postpone intended travel to any country, which has reported confirmed case(s) of COVID-19, with or without community transmission until the outbreak is halted, unless it is absolutely necessary. For those who cannot postpone intended travel, we urge you to observe all necessary precautionary measures instituted by the means of travel and the host country.
- Travelers arriving at any Point of Entry (POE) in Sierra Leone with any of the following signs and symptoms will be immediately taken into isolation facility for investigation and management:
- Fever above 37.5 °c
- Persistent cough
- Difficult breathing
- Travelers from countries with less than SO confirmed cases will be documented and followed-up by designated surveillance officers/contact tracers at home for a period of 14 days to ensure compliance with surveillance procedures.
- Travelers arriving at any Point of Entry in Sierra Leone from countries with 5O or more confirmed cases of COVJD-19 will have to undergo either of the two quarantine methods:
- Travelers whose embassies/missions/organizations have identified an isolation facility verified by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation will be taken to the facility to be quarantined for a period of 14 days. Embassies/missions/organizations who opt for this method will be responsible for safe transportation from the Point of Entry to the identified facility. The Embassy /mission/organizations should provide the names and expected date of arrival of these travellers at least three days before arrival and will be responsible for all expenses incurred during the quarantine processes.
- All other persons will be taken to the MANDATORY QUARANTINE FACILITY managed by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and observed for a period of 14 days.
- We are strongly recommending that travellers from countries with 200 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 may only visit Sierra Leone if they have very crucial or essential functions to perform in the country at this critical point in time. You are however, advised to stay in your country during this critical period
- All passengers who arrive with a Laissez-passer /emergency travel certificate/ID card will be immediately taken to the quarantine facility for secondary screening. If there is any suspicion of an illegal attempt to undermine the process, such a visitor will be kept in the designated quarantine facility for 14 days.
According to the Ministry of Information, 110 people have so far been quarantined and observed; 85 have tested negative after completing the quarantine period; and 26 are currently under observation.