Sierra Leone: Government imposes mandatory use of face mask in all public places and transportation over third wave of COVID-19.

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Sierra Leone government has on Thursday 17th June introduced several new measures to curb the spread of Covid -19  as it experiences a third wave of the global pandemic in the country .

The West African nation has recently recorded a spike in the virus with over 300 positive cases with three deaths after over four months without any death reports.

According to the public notice from the country’s National Covid-19 Response Centre (NaCOVERC) effectively 17th June wearing of face mask in all public places and transportation is compulsory, including social distancing,  hand-washing among others are  latest new measures introduced the government for a month subject to review .

“In view of our commitment to protecting the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and in response of growing national and international public health concerns, the Presidential Task Force has approved the announcement of the following measures, as proposed by NaCOVERC, for nationwide application with immediate effect, for a period of one month, subject to review,’’ the public notice reads.

The public notice noted that the new measures is as a result of the country’s witnessing a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic adding that this assessment has been informed by the WHO alert as well as a thorough examination of the epidemiological data particularly for the last one month, which strongly indicates not only exponential rise in COVID-19 confirmed cases, but also increased positivity rates, hospitalization and deaths.

“We are further informed by available data that a significant number of positive cases are from samples obtained from patients in health facilities. These are predominantly in the Western Area. In the current instance, many of the cases are symptomatic unlike the initial one year of the outbreak in the first and second waves,’’ the notice added.

NaCOVERC urged that services in places of worship not to exceed ninety (90) minutes, with full enforcement of face mask, social distancing and hand-washing protocols whilst also banning night clubs and cinemas for one month with immediate effect in the country.

“With effect from Tuesday 22nd June 2021, Government ministries, departments and agencies will only be accessed by employees and members of the public with proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination. Full dose vaccination is highly recommended. National Sports Authority designated-activities and competitions shall be held behind closed doors without spectators. Only footballers and officials with proof of vaccination will be allowed into the venue,’’

NaCOVERC believed that social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, receptions, naming ceremonies and the likes should not exceed fifty (50) people, with mandatory face mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing/use of hand sanitizer to be observed; with Large-scale entertainment activities or any super-spreader events are banned for the period of one month.

“NaCOVERC will be enforcing wearing of face mask at shops and at indoor and outdoor markets and crowded stalls. Educational institutions shall comply with mandatory face mask, hand-washing and social distance protocols. Government and private health facilities to incorporate COVID-19 screening for cases matching case definition for COVID-19; and corpses with suspicious case definitions to be swabbed within 12 hours of death,’’ NaCOVERC urged. 

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