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‘Elbow greetings a possible means to catch COVID- 19’

-EOC communication lead

June 9, 2020

By Elizabeth A. Kaine

Head of Communication Pillar at the National Emergency Response Center (EOC) has told journalists that the use of elbow in greeting without being sensitive to one’s health is very dangerous and could be a possible means to contracting the virus.

Harold Thomas made the statement on Thursday, 4th June, at the YWCA New Hall during training for journalists on reporting the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas noted that sneezing or coughing on the elbow is not a bad idea, but that people should be very careful and ensure that they always have their protective items so as to clean the area after they have sneezed or coughed, to protect themselves from contracting or transmitting the virus to other people.

He said the disease spreads from person to person, as when someone coughs or sneezes, the droplets from their nose or mouth may contain the virus and it very dangerous for human health.

“When you cough or sneeze, you spray small liquid droplets from your nose or mouth which can contain germs, and it can’t be seen with the naked eyes. When you cough or sneezes into your upper arms or sleeve it helps stop the droplets from spreading to others and into surfaces, but when the arm or sleeve is not sanitized it could be a possible means to infecting others during elbow greetings,” he noted.

Thomas said one of the most important elements needed for the fight against the disease is effective public information dissemination and public education so that the public adopts all the recommended health protocols from World Health Oorganisation and the Government of Sierra Leone. 

Director for Media, Alumni and International Relations at University of Sierra Leone, Dr. Tonya Musa said one of the problems the country is currently faced with is spread of false information; rumours and fake news, which, he said  has posed serious threat to the fight against the disease.

He continued that no crisis can be defeated without accurate and reliable information, thus urging the public to abstain from such act and follow the procedures put in place to fight the pandemic.

“One popular conspiracy theory exists that the virus was developed as a means to wage a biological war against China. There was also a rumor that the bioweapons research in Wuhan laboratory resulted in the genetic engineering of COVID-19 that was then released and such rumors may have even jeopardized the working relationship between Western scientists and their Chinese counterparts searching for a COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Musa added.

The Coronavirus which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) is ravaging populations across the world. Sierra Leone was the last country in West Africa to report a confirmed case of the disease at the end of March 2020.

Meanwhile, the government has put in place stringent preventive measures including banning flights in and out of the country and has declared a state of emergency which gives the government wide ranging powers to override fundamental rights as the focus is to ensure that the spread of the virus is contained particularly now that the confirmed cases of the disease appear to be community infection.