SIERRA LEONE – The Ministry of Health and Sanitation of the Republic of Sierra Leone has reported the country’s first case of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the capital Freetown.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement that the patient is a 37-year-old Sierra Leonean man who travelled to France on March 12 and returned on March 16.
He was immediately put into mandatory managed quarantine for 14 days and was tested at the end of his quarantine period, when he developed flu-like symptoms that subsequently led to the confirmation as Covid-19.
“We have now shifted from preparedness to response. We must now focus on tracing the people that the patient may have come into contact with to be able to isolate and provide them with medical care,” said Evans Liyosi, the WHO representative in Sierra Leone.
“The coming days and weeks will be crucial. With robust prevention and treatment measures we can stop widespread infections not only in the capital but across the country. We are working with the health authorities and other partners, providing the support needed to adequately tackle the virus.”
WHO said that since the outbreak was declared, it has provided technical and material support to countries in Africa.
“The organisation has supplied personal protective equipment for health workers and other essential equipment for screening and handling suspect cases at airports and other points of entry.”
“Here in Sierra Leone there have been focused public health and additional interventions instituted to promote prompt case identification and confirmation, protection of front-line health workers and screening of travellers,” read the statement.
WHO has urged people to regularly wash their hands with soap and water, cough into a tissue or a bent elbow and, safely dispose of the tissue afterwards, maintain a social distance (particularly from individuals coughing), avoid handshaking and touching the eyes, nose and mouth, and to seek medical attention early if a person develops a fever or cough.