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Cyber Crime Training Reinforces Calls For Successful Implementation Of The Cyber Legislation

By Zachariah Jalloh
StratComm, MIC

The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq. has re-emphasized the need for the successful implementation of the Cybersecurity and Crime Act 2021 and called for a coordinated and determined effort towards curbing Cyber Crime in Sierra Leone.

He made this call during the opening of a 4-day training of Prosecutors at the Radison Blu Hotel in Freetown, organized by the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre(NC3) in collaboration with the United Nation Office for Drugs and Crimes alongside United States Embassy.

Solomon Jamiru Esq. lauded the idea of training prosecutors in Sierra Leone on Cybercrimes. saying that, it is imperative to understand the cyber legislation for its smooth implementation. He added that the fine collaboration between NC3 and UNODC is already crystallising into very concrete steps.

“The Ministry of Information and Communications remains firmly committed to mid-wife President Julius Maada Bio’s bold and transformative vision for digital connectivity. By 2018, a little over 300,000 of the population had access to internet. Today, that number has risen exponentially to around 2,600,000 Sierra Leoneans” Solomon Jamiru said.

He added that President Bio considers digitally connectivity as an imperative to the growth of the national economy and businesses, an improved governance architecture, the provision of effective and efficient social services, and also as a human right to be enjoyed all

The Deputy Minister concluded by saying that the cost of cyber crimes is massive, costing the global economy and Africa about USD600 Billion and USD4 Billion annually, and therefore, he is urging law enforcement agents and quintessential legal professionals to take full advantage of the training, which he referred to as a major step to building the capacity of investigators and prosecutors.

In her address, the National Coordinator of NC3, Mariama Yormah, said the Cybersecurity and Crime Act, which was enacted in 2021 to combat cybercrime, protect Government’s Critical information infrastructure and provide a safer cyber space, would help all citizens to thrive on cyberspace and enjoy the opportunity without being harassed or bullied.

“The centre is mandated to handle all cybersecurity-related issues, including supporting the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in discharging their functions concerning cybercrimes in Sierra Leone, especially as it is a reasonably new phenomenon in the country” Mrs. Yormah emphasized.

She added that the training will build the capacity of prosecutors as most are unfamiliar with the provisions and the technicalities necessary to build their cases and prosecute them.

“This training session with the UNODC will better capacitate them with technical and personal attribution, identification and seizure of digital evidence, differentiation between cyber-enabled and cyber-dependent crimes, digital forensics, hashing encryption and evaluating the authenticity and reliability of digital evidence.” She explained.

The Project Coordinator of the West African region office, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, Kamal Toure, spoke on the importance of combating cyber crimes in the region, saying that the UNODC hopes to enhance the capacity of West African Countries to prevent and respond to cyber crime in a holistic and sustainable manner.

Representatives of the Chief Justice and the Inspector General of Police, both expressed similar sentiments about the training in their short statements and reiterated the importance of fighting cyber crimes with the right tools and capacity.

The training is expected to run for four days and ends on the 19th January 2022.

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As December is here… we are once again vulnerable to another wave, which may well bear the hallmarks of Omicron – Solomon Jamiru

Dear Esteemed Readers

You recall my last post on the new COVID-19 variant (OMICRON). First detected in South Africa and later reported to WHO on November 24, similar discoveries have been made in countries such as Botswana, Israel, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong and Italy. Many other countries are now bracing up for it.

Since our country is just one or two flights away from others where Omicron has been detected, and if this variant is highly transmissible, then it might just be a matter of time before it is detected in Sierra Leone.

Preliminary clinical and epidemiological data suggested mild symptoms (as the variant largely seems to be affecting persons who are 40 and under). However, we should not assume that only the young population may be vulnerable. What may be a mild symptom in the young, may be a severe/critical case among the older population, comorbid cases and the immuno-compromised.

Each time there is a Variant of Concern, I know we are worried about its potential to further prolong the pandemic, especially where transmissibility is high. And once we learn that Omicron may also be transmitted by fully vaccinated persons and avoid our body defence system, we are tempted to say “what’s the point then in taking the vaccine”. This kind of feeling may embolden COVID-19 skeptics and weaponize vaccine hesitants.

Omicron is already seen as a major threat to public health in South Africa and other places. So, even though significant steps are being taken to strengthen our case management capabilities locally, our health care system may be easily overwhelmed in the face of high hospitalization, which might have its toll on precious lives and further shrink Government’s fiscal space.

Our focus then is on taking the relevant precautions -take the COVID-19 vaccine and religiously wear your face mask in public spaces and transport. Vaccines are still a potent tool in our arsenal, and face masks also can protect you not just from COVID-19 infection, but other communicable diseases as well.

And as December is here again, with lots of activities which pose transmission risks, and thousands of passengers coming in, we are once again vulnerable to another wave, which may well bear the hallmarks of Omicron.

Yours sincerely

Solomon Jamiru Esq
Spokesperson NaCOVERC

CoronaFetNaWeAllFet

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WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY DAY COMMEMORATED IN PORT LOKO

By: Zacharia Jalloh, Strategic Communications Unit MIC.

The World Photography Day is celebrated every year on the 19th August. This year, the Ministry of Information and Communications in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Union of Photographers, commemorated the day in Port Loko city on the 18-19 August 2021. The celebration was more of a reflection on photography so far, and a look into the future of the profession. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “COVID-19 Through the Lens”.

The program brought together photographers from all around the country to Port Loko, to look into their work and see how best they can surmount the challenges posed by the growth of technology.

Delivering the keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Mr. Solomon Jamiru thanked all those who were involved in organizing this year’s event.

Mr. Solomon Jamiru commended Port Loko for a job well done in the fight against Covid-19 as the district accounts for only 2% of the national figures.

The Deputy Minister encouraged the photographers not to be intimidated by the growth of technology, but that they should see it as a catalyst to the growth of their profession.

The Deputy Minister said photography can be used to tell the story of Covid-19 and implored them to use their skill in promoting the fight against the pandemic. He believes photos taken today will be used to tell stories to generations yet to come.

As he is also the Spokesperson of NaCOVERC, Mr. Jamiru used the occasion to sensitize photographers about Covid-19 prevention and asked them to be ambassadors in the fight. He informed them about propagating the proper wearing of mask, vaccinations, social distancing etc.

He concluded by pleading with photographers to tell Covid-19 stories based on science and not myth. He asked them to avoid misinformation and take the right Information to the people.

The Acting Director of Information in the Ministry of Information and Communications Mr. Emmanuel Turay, in his brief statement spoke about innovation and creativity as a catalyst for the growth of photographers and also called for more women into the profession.

The Port Loko District Council Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Santigie Bangura after welcoming the delegates into his district, reflected on the time when photographers had to take weeks to produce pictures. He entreated them to enroll in university and study photography.

The Vice President of the Sierra Leone Union of Photographers Tenesie Yamba expressed his delight in this year’s commemoration which he described as “unprecedented”. He averred that photography profession is not for dropouts as perceived by many and encouraged his members to continue to capacitate themselves. He promised that the executive will ensure more female inclusion into the profession.

On the rapid growth of technology, the Vice President was upbeat to confront the challenges. He said they will digitize their work as some of their members are already in digital production.

Other speakers spoke on the continued growth of the profession and also on the inclusion of women.

The program was climaxed by photo exhibition from various photographers across the country.

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NaCOVERC Engages IRCSL On Status Of The Third Wave Freetown

NaCOVERC engages IRCSL on status of the third waveFreetown, July 26, 2021

The public would recall that following the broadcast by His Excellency Julius Maada Bio on July 1, announcing a range of measures to help curtail the third wave of COVID-19, NaCOVERC engaged the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone around the interventions and both parties committed to deepen cooperation towards keeping risks low.

At the Bank Complex, Kingtom-Freetown, NaCOVERC held another dialogue session with the IRCSL to update our revered religious leaders on the epidemiological curve since the measures were announced on July 1.

In his presentation, NaCoVERC Chair Honorable Sheku Bangura, conveyed the deep gratitude of NaCOVERC to the IRCSL for their tremendous support to the fight against COVID-19, and the immense patience and understanding showed following the reintroduction of restrictions (one of which has suspended congregational worship).

Chair Bangura clearly showed from the epi-curve displayed on the screen that indeed cases have reduced significantly (from 14.4% and 13.7% on June 20 and 27 to about 1.1% as at today July 26). However, he conveyed the advice of epidemiologists and virologists (and even CDC) that though the measures have helped to bend the curve, we are yet to flatten it. Thus, as a Response, the honest assessment is that it’s too early to lift restrictions. That, it is advisable to wait for two more cycles to hopefully flatten the curve and see figures at the lowest ebb.

NaCOVERC appreciates the passionate and genuine concerns expressed by the IRCSL at today’s dialogue, and would like to assure our revered clergy and the inter-faith community largely that NaCOVERC will always have God at the center of the Response configuration.

NaCOVERC believes that together with the IRCSL, our nation will gallantly and with unity, suppress the third wave to the point where we can safely lift restrictions.
NaCOVERC wishes to once again appeal for continued patience, understanding, and urge our people to comply with the measures and get our COVID-19 vaccine now.

God bless us all.

Solomon Jamiru ESQ
Spokesperson
NaCOVERC

CoronaFetNaWeAllfet

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Solomon Jamiru Describes UK’s Placing Sierra Leone on its Red List as Arbitrary

By Amin Kef-Ranger

On Monday 19th July 2021, Sierra Leone will be on the UK travel red list at precisely 4:00PM. However, the Spokesman of NaCOVERC, Solomon Jamiru, has described the aforementioned decision by the UK Government as “arbitrary”.

According to him Sierra Leone has had 6,122 cases and 113 deaths as at 15 July 2021.

He intimated that the week before President Bio’s latest speech to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Sierra Leone recorded 523 cases and after the President’s speech the country recorded 292, showing an effectiveness of the President’s COVID-19 regulations.

The NaCOVERC Spokesman said bed occupancy has also dropped by 37% as treatment centers have 400 available beds adding that the African continent is yet to surpass 1.5% vaccination rate of its population.

“In Sierra Leone, as of 15 July 2021, 134,000 doses of vaccines had been administered with 32,184 double jabs,” he informed stating how the AstraZeneca vaccine has depleted and Government is working with partners to replenish it saying it is expected that in August this year, with the support of World Bank, more vaccines will be available in the country.

Also stated was that the Sinopham vaccine, which is certified by WHO is available, safe and efficient maintaining how NaCOVERC is urging citizens to take the vaccine and avoid misinformation.

“Hand washing, proper face mask wearing and social distancing remain vital preventive mechanisms in the fight against COVID-19,” he affirmed.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

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Sierra Leoneans, HAVE NO FEAR. GOD IS WITH US – Solomon Jamiru Esq

Sierra Leoneans, PEACE, BE STILL!!!

It was a good thing that a cross-sectional nationally representative sero-survey was conducted in March 2021. As a matter of fact, any responsible and epidemiologically-minded COVID-19 Response should embrace such a fact-finding mission. So from NaCOVERC’s perspective, we are proud to have partnered with Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Statistics Sierra Leone, CDC and other agencies to have a sense of the scope of COVID-19 exposures that may have fallen out of the raider.

Our people seem to fret simply because the report indicates that the COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone may have been 45 times under-reported. Our first instinct is to focus on the word ‘under-reported’ and ‘45 times’. That’s scary right? And some of our folks (even scientists) may have hastily concluded that “NaCOVERC bin dae lie pa we”. As a Response, we can discountenance it as a pardonable naivety.

Perhaps the word ‘under-reported/under-reporting’ has conveyed a meaning that is totally out of the context as framed and understood by the team of very distinguished researchers. This kind of survey is not new. Let’s look at Kenya, UK and US.

On May 30, 2020, Kenya had reported 2093 cases (90% of which were asymptomatic). However, when a SARS-CoV-2 sero-prevalence was done the same May, it indicated a prevalence of 4.3% representing 1.3 million infections.

On July 2, 2021, the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting that long covid cases in UK were being under-reported in GP records. The term ‘long covid’ in that study referred to persons who continued to show COVID-19 symptoms after four weeks. The lead researcher (Ben Goldacre) noted that “we were surprised to see almost a hundred-fold difference in prevalence between population survey estimates and formally recorded diagnoses for the same condition”.

By mid-November 2020, CDC had reported about 10.8M COVID-19 cases and over 244,000 deaths. But when the University of Minnesota ‘Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy’ did a cross-sectional study which was sponsored by Pfizer and Merck, the research revealed a sero-prevalence of 14.3% (suggesting median 46.9M infections), compared to the 10.8M cases reported by CDC. The report also suggested that 35% of deaths were unreported.

What these discrepancies between ‘reported cases’ and ‘sero-prevalence figures’ tell us, is that, no country can have a perfect grip of cases. A good number of cases (particularly asymptomatic and mild) may not present at health facilities and testing centers. Countries may therefore wish to get a true picture of the percentages of their populations which may have been exposed to COVID-19 but not captured in the laboratory-confirmed data. That is the function of the serologic study.

No country can test its entire population.
Sierra Leoneans should withhold our tongues from lashing out, and have full faith in the integrity of the Response as well as celebrate our hard-working health professionals. Rest assured, we are not doing anything silly here, we are a highly respected component of the global public health ecosystem (albeit under a severely challenged local health care system).

If the serologic study suggests that 45 times more may have been exposed to COVID-19, thank God we don’t have people falling like leaves. We regret any loss of lives and continue to commend our fallen loved ones to the richness of God’s mercies and eternal bliss. We can’t spend time arguing on figures. Rather, we will use the findings to recalibrate our posture and bolster our response capabilities. We will test more and also vaccinate more. We have run out of AstraZeneca doses (this means our people have appetite for vaccines). We ramped up from average 3000 to 5000 tests per week before the 3rd wave……we want to ramp up further. We will deploy antigen tests so that infections at health facilities (public and private) and in communities can be tracked. We will continue to do PCR tests and intensify our track and trace efforts. We will ramp up functional beds and give the best care to cases in treatment and care centers. Our risk communication and community engagement will be sustained -and we continue to ask all citizens to own this fight and see it as WAR on our lives and livelihoods.

Our key commitment is to beat the third wave and prepare to respond to any future waves. And so, we thank our partners here and abroad for their support, and advocate for Africa to have immediate access to vaccines so that we inoculate beyond the abysmal 1.5% of our continent’s population.

Sierra Leoneans, HAVE NO FEAR. GOD IS WITH US.

Solomon Jamiru Esq.
Spokesperson
NaCOVERC- CoronaFetNaWeAllfet

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We are inconceivably perplexed by judgements that are arbitrarily imposed – Solomon Jamiru Esq

Fellow Sierra Leoneans

The UK Government website alerts that Sierra Leone will move from amber to red list effective 4 am on 19 July. Only British or Irish nationals and non-nationals with residency permit will be allowed entry into UK (and subjected to quarantine protocols).

By 7th July, cases had dropped by 44%, and by July 14, by a further 20%. Bed occupancy in treatment and care centers also dropped from 46% on July 7, to 37% by July 14. Remember that Sierra Leone scaled down beds from over 1,000 to around 400 due to low case numbers after the second wave, until the third wave spike.

Cases have dropped consistently from previous weekly total of 523 (May 25-31) to 292 (July 1-7) to 233 (July 8-14).

This means that the measures announced by President Bio are having a positive impact. We can do better than this, and that is why we are sustaining communication, community engagement and enforcement of measures. That’s why surveillance is being intensified, testing ramped up, and case management agile.

We see what it means when travel bans are imposed on our people, even though the decision doesn’t situate justly within the statistics. What makes Sierra Leone’s COVID-19 situation a red zone when there are countries deeply embattled than us? Can someone explain the fundamental distinction?

Delta variant is the dominant global variant which was detected in Sierra Leone three weeks ago, and also detected from passengers coming from India and UK. One month ago, delta variant accounted for 96% of new cases in UK, and still spreading. In the US, it is also accounting for most of the spikes. By July 1, it was detected in over 96 countries, and 4 days ago detected in 22 African countries. Now, WHO Africa Regional Director Dr Moeti suggests that Africa has gone through the most dire pandemic week ever, but the worst is yet to come. That is what as a nation we are avoiding, and we are seeing the results of our interventions.

We are inconceivably perplexed by judgements that are arbitrarily imposed. We may not have vaccinated in measures we ought to, but our situation isn’t a Holocaust.

The July 19 game of horror should be reconsidered, that is not a correct statement of the resilience of our people and a Response that has enjoyed the participation of the most acclaimed institutions in world health and disease prevention and control. We must all be in this fight together. Sierra Leoneans,

I pray that this brings us together more to fight this common enemy and bounce back better and stronger.

Yours sincerely

Solomon Jamiru
Spokesperson
NaCOVERC

CoronaFetNaWeAllfet

UK in Sierra Leone

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Le53.6Bill Collected From COVID-19 Tests Done for Incoming & Outgoing Passengers And Le1.2Bill Collected From COVID-19 Fines

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National Coronavirus Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) In Community-to-Community Sensitization

Day two of the National Coronavirus Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) community-to-community sensitization on the new wave of the coronavirus has just ended this afternoon in the Western Area urban -the epicenter of the outbreak.

Jui, Allen town, Mayemi, Calaba town, Wellington, Rokupa, Portee, Shell, Ferry junction, Upgun roundabout and Eastern Police roundabout where visited today while Lumley, Wilberforce, Congo Cross, Youyi building, Dwazark, Cotton Tree and PZ where covered on the first day of the sensitization and face masks distribution.

Solomon Jamiru and his team of Risk Communications and Social Mobilization experts distributed face masks to passengers, taxi drivers, okada and kekeh riders, shopkeepers, petty traders and passersby.

The team also sensitized commuters on the rise in the number of new infection rates and appealed to them to properly wear their face masks to safeguard themselves from contacting and spreading the Coronavirus to their family, loved ones and communities. The sensitization is funded by Breakthrough ACTION Sierra Leone.

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Joint Press Release From MBSSE And NaCOVERC – Reinforcement Of The Wearing Of Face Masks In Schools