March 24, 2020
By Mohamed Sesay
Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rado Swarray, has yesterday told pressmen that President Julius Maada Bio was extremely concerned over the barrage of press releases issued by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as measures to prevent the entry of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone.
He said government would be centralising all communications relating to the preparedness for and prevention of the Coronavirus, adding that the ministry would be working closely with line ministries such as the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, to ensure effective and accurate flow of information.
“Today, his excellency is extremely concerned about the polarization of press releases emanating from ministries, departments and agencies. Again, we are centralizing everything relating to Coronavirus in this time around, not just about Facebook or whatever. That is why we are working very closely with the line ministries responsible for health and sanitation. We don’t have the technical know-how; it is they who do but we are in the business of communications. Once they tell us, we will ensure that we disseminate it around,” he said.
He noted that fake news on social media is seriously undermining the preparedness and preventive measures relating to the dreaded Coronavirus diseases, adding that government was thinking about instituting penalties for people who disseminate fake news.
Minister Swarray disclosed that the ministry of information has created a Facebook page, where updates on the Coronavirus would be placed.
On his part, Health Education Manager/ Communication Lead in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Harold Thomas, gave an update with regards preventive measures and preparedness for the COVID-19, despite the country has not recorded any confirmed case as at now.
He disclosed that the country has nine (9) quarantine locations, and that the number of quarantined passengers or persons in quarantine homes are seventy-eight (78), new arrivals fifty-two (52), Port Loko twenty-three (23),while those that are in self- quarantined are nineteen (19).
He added that cumulatively, the country has four hundred and forty-one (441) in quarantine homes.
He said a cumulative number of persons who have been discharged from quarantine homes were one hundred and forty (140), adding that three hundred and thirty-seven are on self- quarantined.
He continued that the coordination system has been established in terms of preparedness with an integrated preparedness response, and that ministry has activated the district public health emergency operation centre across the country.