Travel Blog - Travel | Explore | Live | Learn | Smart

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Timeline of events Week 1: COVID-19 and Sierra Leone

River No.2 Beach - Sierra Leone by Goodseedlens Photography

Here is a timeline of events when it comes to the Corona Virus and Sierra Leone. I live in Freetown, Sierra Leone and last week I shared on my socials the news that the government had suspended flights in and out of the country from 22 nd March 2020. As I shared this I got many questions, mostly from the diaspora community asking where I was getting the information from and if I would share anymore. It was at this moment I remembered that Whatsapp only spreads so far and so wide (within your circles I guess). Whatsapp is one of the most used social media platforms here in the city of Freetown. There is a culture where most news circulate via Whatsapp, and to make sure its verified information, imagery of the signed and official letters are sent to confirm that the news or statement is in fact legit.  So I’ve compiled all the information into a week timeline of events starting from the 16th March because that is the day many of us suddenly realised the seriousness of the Corona virus, the date when a lot drastically changed throughout the day and overnight. Please stay safe and remember to practice the prevention schemes like washing your hands regularly and social distancing.

Here is a fresh update, it has been announced as of today (24th March) that Sierra Leone will be in a 'state of emergency' for twelve months.

Monday 16th March 2020


A press release was released on this date in relation to Covid19.

A state house press release from the government of Sierra Leone on COVID19 stated the restriction of public gatherings of more than over 100 persons. They also made the ban of overseas travel for government officials on this day.

The President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio calls the team that headed for National Ebola Response Centre to come on board in efforts to prevent the spread of Corona Virus to the nation.

  • -     The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education also recommended the following.
  • -       Suspension of school assemblies and Devotion
  • -       Suspension of Sporting Events and Thanksgivings.
  • -       Hand washing stations in schools
  • -       Monitoring of temperatures and isolating children with high fever.


Brussel Airlines announced that they would be suspended flights to and from Sierra Leone as of 21st March 2020.

This day was the day every anticipated social event in Freetown was either officially cancelled or postponed.

The Empress and Teni gig for the 3rd April, BurnaBoy’s stadium show for the 11th April, Ballin Parties annual EasterPool Party…all were cancelled.


We also learnt on this day that our very own Salone brother Idris Elba had tested positive with Corona Virus.

Tuesday 17th March 2020

Air France announced that they would be reducing their flight capacity by 90% for the next two months due to the decline in demand and increasing travel restrictions brought by the Corona Virus.

The Ministry of Health bans all sporting activities across the country until further notice. Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC) held an emergency council sitting this day with the Western Rural District Health Medical team to put precautionary measures in place where they decided on the following:
-       Temporary ban on all public events and social gatherings.
-       Suspension of all crusades.
-       Marriage receptions and parties banned.
-       Suspension of all activities of secret societies and traditional healers.

Sierra Leonean media personality and writer Vickie Remoe releases a video to educate the masses on how to avoid catching Covid19 with the practice of social distancing. #kiptoyusef

Wednesday 18th March 2020


President Bio addressed the nation on public health and safety measures for the Corona Virus in a live broadcast on SLBC TV.


A KQ Airways flight arrived at Lungi airport. There were suspected Corona Virus cases on this flight. It was reported from health sources in Monrovia and Freetown that one of a Japanese family of four on board were symptomatic of Covid19 The flight KQ502 arrived at Lungi International airport, authorities requested that all passengers on board should be quarantined. Three passengers refused to be isolated and told officials that they would rather return to where they came from.

The passengers that agreed to go through the quarantine process complained that were put in bad conditions as the rooms at a Lungi hotel were not to standard, lacked basic needs and maintenance.

The passengers on an Air Peace flight from Nigeria were also requested by airport officials to be quarantined, however some passengers question why this was as they were made to believed that you are only quarantined if you are travelling from countries that have over 50 COVID19 cases.

Archdiocese of Freetown supported the decisions the government had made thus far by releasing a statement reiterated what had been told to the public, the limiting of public gatherings.

President Bio orders military intervention at Lungi International airport to support compliance with all public health directives and advisories on site.

Thursday 19th March 2020


By Thursday the government of Sierra Leone announced the suspension of winter operation permit effective. All flights in and out of the country were to be suspended for ninety days effective from Sunday 22nd March 2020. The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mr Kabineh M. Kallon addressed this to the country managers of all airlines that provide flights to and from Sierra Leone. The only exception will be emergency flights.

Kenya Airways put on a position statement on the event of the previous day where four passengers were denied entry upon arrival at Freetown.



Health Minister Alpha Wurie encourages citizens to pray from home and to avoid going to churches and mosques to protect the nation from Corona Virus.

On this very day the Ministry of Transport and Aviation unanimously agreed to implement the following to prevent the COVID19 spread:
  •        Over loading in all public and private vehicles is prohibited.
  •        No standing, no middle seat allowed.
  •        Commercial/private vehicles without ventilation will not be allowed to ply.
  •        All kekehs must reduce one passenger per seat.

  •        Hand washing and temperature checks facilities should be available at all Lorry, Bike and Kekeh parks and terminals.
  •        Hand Sanitizer must be on board all public transport vehicles


Stated by Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Sadiq Silla

The President admitted at a press conference that the initial quarantine measures around the corona virus pandemic at the airport could have been ‘handled better’ as the passengers who were quarantined from countries with up to 50 cases or more complained that they under appalling conditions as the hotels they were placed in for quarantine were ‘filthy and lacked basic utilities’ according to Sierra Leonean BBC journalist Umaru Fofana. They were later moved to a hotel in the capital city of Freetown, Hill Valley Hotel. Which was a total risk, but that is a story for another day.

Freetown City Council’s education officer Rev. Joseph Cooper stated in a public warning notice sent to all Head teachers that no injections or vaccines should be given to schoolchildren during this period.

Friday 20th March 2020


On the 20th of March 202 the West African Examinations Council (WASSCE) announced the suspension of 202 WASSCE examinations due to the severity of the Corona Virus. On this day the government also announce the closure of mosques and churches until further notice.  It was later announced by the Department of Education that all schools must close at the end of the month, 31st March until further notice.

The Secretary of The Ministry of Social Welfare, Alfred Lahai elaborated on the closures of places of worship in reference to the suspension of the following days in churches and mosques:
  •        Good Friday
  •       Palm Sunday
  •       Easter Sunday


Chief Administrator of Freetown City Council, Festus Kallay gave an immediate release statement on ‘Freetown’s Preparedness in the event of an outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease in Sierra Leone’. In the letter it stated the following and more:
  •        Market and street trading will be conducted between 7am and 7pm.
  •        All night trading to be suspended from 23rd March 2020 with the exception of cooked food vendors who should close at 10pm daily.
  •        All business institutions in the municipality are required to provide hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers at their entrance.

Popular Freetown nightclub The Warehouse also announced that from the 31st March they would temporarily close until the risk of Covid19 subsides.


On this day VR&C Marketing let us know the stats that thirteen people had been tested by this time. Sierra Leone currently has zero cases Corona Virus.


One fifth of the world is currently on lockdown according to Channel 4 News.


Keep up the good work, government officials, workers, and citizens of Sierra Leone.

I’m proud of you, and you should be too!


Sources for this article:

Government of Sierra Leone
Ministries of Sierra Leone
Umaru Fofana
Vickie Remoe
VR&C Marketing

For more and the latest blog posts keep it touch! 







SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig