The number of recorded cases of Covid 19 in Sierra Leone has thankfully remained low. Current figures record a total of 6396 cases and 121 deaths in a population of 8m. However, the testing and tracking infrastructure in Sierra Leone is limited, which means the actual case numbers may be considerably higher.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also advise potential travellers to Sierra Leone to be aware that even basic medical services can be very difficult to access, particularly in villages and remote areas.
Our Connexion Minister, Magnus Bendu, has described ways in which the pandemic has affected Sierra Leone.
He recalls that when the virus first arrived, the whole country was gripped with panic following the memory of the earlier and deadly spread of Ebola in 2014. When news reports started to pour in of how quickly the virus was spreading and taking lives in Italy, Spain and the UK, this provided a stark and frightening reminder of how weak the medical system is in Sierra Leone.
The social and economic impact on the nation has been significant, despite the low infection and death rates from the virus. Prices of basic commodities and food have risen exponentially due to the nation’s dependence on imports, and the restriction of movement and normal activities has presented a further threat to an already weak economy. A large percentage of people in Sierra Leone have extremely low incomes and live hand-to-mouth in order to survive.
Opposition to restrictions of movement and mask wearing were further exacerbated by a prevalent and ongoing mistrust of any Government in power, plus the disbelief by many people of the existence of the virus.
A vaccination programme has begun in Sierra Leone, but the number of people who have received, or will be able to receive the inoculation, is small. 4% of the population have so far received one or more dose, and just 1.4% have been fully vaccinated.
(Magnus’ full report can be read in the autumn edition of The Voice)
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