By Allieu Sahid Tunkara
Residents In Freetown are calling on government to adopt measures that would forestall the Spread of Corona virus in Sierra Leone.
The virus said to have broken out in China has taken a death toll of over 700 worldwide. Some African countries, reports say, have recorded suspected cases and quarantine services have commenced there.
Sierra Leone, too, have commenced quarantine services for those coming from China where the disease is posing the most potent threat.
Any returnee from China is expected to spend 14 days in quarantine before allowed to move freely within the country.
The growing spread of a virus known to be deadlier than Ebola is compelling Sierra Leoneans to call on government to adopt measures to prevent the virus entering the country.
Adama Kamara resides at Calaba Town in the east of Freetown. She trades in local goods and was puzzled when she was told about the outbreak of the Corona Virus in China.
She was not lettered but aware that of the deadly nature of the Corona virus which shares similar features with Ebola.
She appealed to the local and central government authorities to put measures in place to stop the virus entering Sierra Leone. “I want government to come up with measures to stop the spread of the Ebola virus so that we do not suffer again as we did during Ebola,” Adama appealed.
She made reference to the ravaging nature of Ebola Virus which she describes as “the most Dangerous.” Adama is of the view that the fear of Corona virus would worsen the prevalent economic hardship in the country especially for the low-income earners.
Adama is one of them as she depends on hand-to-mouth survival. “We have already put up with the hardship in the country. But, the outbreak of such virus would worsen the situation,” She said.
Currently, health workers have been deployed at the border communities in Kambia and Gendama in the Northern and southern provinces respectively to detect and screen all those entering Sierra Leone. To make them effective in carrying out their work, protective gears have been supplied to them to execute their duties.
However, Most Sierra Leoneans say although the government is taking some steps to keep the country safe from the Coronavirus, much more remains to be done.
Abdulai Sesay is a retired teacher and resident of Wellington in the east of Freetown. He told Nightwatch that the government must “act fast” to put measures in place so that the mistakes that took place during Ebola period could not be repeated. “Government should not wait again for the virus to cause another trouble in the country but mut put measures in place to protect the people,” He appealed.Sesay seems frightened about the devastating nature of the Ebola virus for which he calls on government to speed up measures to prevent the virus from Sierra Leone.
The neglect of the past government towards the containment of the Ebola virus cost the country direly. Health workers, nurses and medical doctors including the country’s only virologist Sheik Umar Khan succumbed to the virus.
Few nurses survived and Fatmata Tarawallie is one of them. Fatmata explained that she was traumatic owing to the number of nurses who fell victim of the Ebola virus. “Many of our colleagues who passed away have left their children in a dangerous state. I went through a lot of struggles to contain the virus,” Nurse Fatmata said.
She is now retired but the sad memory of the Ebola virus is still fresh in her mind and thus call upon government to pronounce tight measures to forestall the Coronavirus. “I want to see thorough awareness raising so that the people get themselves prepared for the Ebola outbreak,” she appealed.
Currently, veronica buckets in public offices are virtually absent, handwashing is neglected and the use of Dettol and rubbing alcohol liquids is not there, the use of hand sanitisers is hardly felt. These are measures, medics say, are suitable for any viral infections.
The chemicals, medics say, can either prevent or kill of pathogens or viruses when they appear. The methods were used to fight the Ebola war of which Sierra Leone emerged victorious.
It is hoped that the same methods could be used to forestall the appearance of Corona virus in Sierra Leone.
A Sierra Leonean medic, Dr Mohamed Alex Vandy says the Corona virus is complex to understand but the measures used to defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone can be applied to the virus.
The medic is particularly concerned about the use of handwashing in public institution. “I want to encourage Sierra Leoneans to start to use veronica buckets and handwashing in public offices before government comes in,” he said via Morning Coffee Programme of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
The medic also saysinter-ministerial council is in place and is deliberating to come up with practical measures to prevent the deadly virus entering Sierra Leone.
However, discussions and debates about the porosity of the country’s borders have emerged.
Sierra Leone is widely known for its porous borders through which most Sierra Leoneans use to beat government systems. The end of the Ebola crisis in May, 2014 called for strengthening of the country’s borders to contain future outbreaks.
Information in respect of future viral outbreaks in countries where they had first broken out is rife. Sierra Leone is one of the Mano River Union countries worst hit by the Ebola virus.
Thus, measures to capacitate health workers and strengthen health systems have been insistently made. These measures, it is believed, would contain future viral outbreaks in Sierra Leone.
The Belgian scientist, prof. Peter Piot who claimed to have discovered Ebola in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seems to agree with the re-emergence of viral infections where they had first occurred.
The prediction is watertight considering the DRC case. But, current trend indicate that a new virus which proves to be deadlier than the Ebola virus has emerged in a distant land, the Coronavirus.
It is clear that viral infections know no borders when they strike. The Coronavirus which Broke out in China, a month ago, is now felt in some European and African countries with the potential to cause health problems.
Sierra Leone is confronted with challenges of its clinical component of its health systemcalling for an emphasis of its public health system in the form of enhanced sanitation, environmental and personal hygiene.
By Allieu Sahid Tunkara