March 24, 2020
By Alieu Kondoh
The world has been faced with an unusual stranger, one that is on the verge of bringing the world to its knees. Advanced countries with giant economies are still grappling with the menace of what this stranger has brought. It effect has had far reaching consequences on economies, trade, among others as there are now government restrictions on travelling, public gathering and total shutdown in many countries all aimed at quelling this dangerous stranger.
The Coronavirus or COVID 19 has spread it wings from Asia, the Pacific, America, Europe and now Africa, and over 190 countries have recorded positive case(s) with over 300,000 cases with more than 14,000 deaths.
Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in Africa that is yet to record a single case of COVID 19. Is it because we have had experiences during the fight against Ebola? Well, maybe.
In order to prevent this deadly stranger from entering our country, is it but prudent that we are not complacent about it. Our close neighbors, Guinea and Liberia have already recorded positive COVID 19 cases and we may not want to join them in this one.
In as much as the writer commends the government especially the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio for his efforts and proactive move in the fight against this deadly enemy, if care is not taken of our attitude, misinformation, fake news and failure to implement the necessary precautionary measures, we will become prey to it.
To start with, the attitude of Sierra Leoneans is very vital in this fight. If citizens have the right attitude and take the necessary preventive measures, the chances of us winning this fight is great. But is there enough public education in educating the public especially those in the provinces on measures to prevent themselves? I don’t think so.
The government through Ministries have put out press releases on how we should comport ourselves in times like this. But it is obvious that those messages do not get to my village in Manjeahun, Moyamba Districts.
This is where public education comes into play, I think lot has to be done in ensuring that the last village gets the information right. In that way, I believe that we can get the right attitude out of our people in curtailing this virus.
Misinformation and fake news are as crucial as the virus itself, so care has to be taken in order to let the public have the correct information. There have been plenty of press releases in the past few days from various government institutions all aimed at announcing measures to stop the virus entering the country.
Most of these releases have been faced with stiff resistance, especially the one on reducing passengers. The official spokesperson on the fight against COVID 19, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Ngobeh Kamara needs to do more in ensuring that these messages are received by the public in good fate.
I applaud the attitude of the inter-religious council is adhering to the closure of Churches and Mosques for the time been.
What bothers the writer and other people is that why close churches and mosques and allow market places to operate? I wonder. Some school of thoughts will tell you that houses of worship should be the last places to be shut down, but Sierra Leoneans are law abiding people and they have been advised to pray at their homes for now, which is also a blessing.
Now that the virus is making inroads in West Africa, especially our sister country, Nigeria who have double it confirmed cases to over twenty, Sierra Leone should be robust in ensuring that it stays clean.
Those manning our points of entry should be well equipped with the necessities to prevent any possibility of the unwanted.