Following parliamentary summons, Ministers of Health and Sanitation and Internal Affairs, Professor Alpha T. Wurie and Edward Suluku on Thursday 13th February 2020 assured Members of Parliament on their state of preparedness to contain any spill-over effects of the coronavirus in Sierra Leone.
These assurances were made in the Well of Parliament whilst responding to questions and concerns raised by Members of Parliament.
In his submission, the Minister of Health and Sanitation informed the House about stringent measures that have been put in place to contain any outbreak of the coronavirus. Highlighting the method of operations being marshalled by his Ministry, Professor Wurie revealed that several people who are believed to have come from China are quarantined at Lungi and Freetown for a period of 14 days; where they would undergo intensive observation through regular checking of their temperature levels.
He went on to explain the devastating effects of the virus in light of exposure to the country’s population given the rate of prevalence regarding HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and other diseases. He also told the House that the police, military and health officers are currently manning quarantined centers and necessary measures are being taken relative to diagnosing, testing, alertness and quarantine.
Furthermore, the Minister told Parliament that in relation to preparedness, they have held Inter-Ministerial Committee Meetings intending to improve on more collaborative efforts to curb any outbreak. “My Chief Medical Officer is expected to attend a meeting in Mali, whilst the Deputy Minister of Health and the Permanent Secretary are on related assignments regarding preparedness”; adding that Sierra Leoneans should revert to regular hand washing and other forms of hygiene practices as were done during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.
On his part, the Minister of Internal Affairs assured the MPs that security measures have been taken since they had the Inter-Ministerial Committee Meetings relative to collaborative efforts in case of an outbreak.
He also said that they now profile and quarantine passengers coming from China to Sierra Leone for a period of 14 Days to go through effective observation to detect signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. He said further that the police are manning the center at Lungi, whilst the soldiers are securing the center in Freetown.
He raised also alarm on the porosity of the border points, whilst calling on the citizens to strongly use information and communication as the best preventive action.
MPs raised several pertinent questions and concerns including collaboration, communication, coordination, prompt reporting, test kits/gears, policing, relatives conveying food to quarantine centers, improving border security, discouraging compatriots from going to China, capacitating Paramount Chiefs and MPs to sensitize and educate the people, mass awareness raising, support to Sierra Leoneans living in China and harmonization in respect of information sharing among countries in the Mano River Union.
Responding to the questions and concerns raised, the Ministers reassured the MPs of their frantic efforts in the light of readiness to curb any outbreak of the coronavirus in Sierra Leone and called on the citizens to alert the authorities at any time they are suspicious of persons showing signs and symptoms of the virus.
In his intervention, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu thanked the Ministers for adhering to parliamentary summons and heaped enormous praises on them for their brilliant presentations, which are geared towards the country’s preparedness in case of any outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper