As of May 20, Sierra Leone has 570 confirmed cases of COVID 19, 1978 people in quarantine, and 34 COVID-19 related fatalities. With the memory and economic and human costs of the Ebola health crisis (2014 15) still sharp in people’s minds, the Government has acted decisively to implement a range of prevention and containment measures. On March 24 the President declared a national state of emergency that is set to last for 12 months. Prevention and containment measures include:
- Border controls and closure. A mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from a country with 50 or more cases (monitoring of those with fewer than 50); Closure of land borders, enhanced border controls and a 3-month suspension of all incoming and outgoing regular passenger flights.
- Social distancing. Closed education institutions as of March 31. Discourage gatherings of more than 100 people; restrict attendance of religious events and use of public beaches; shorten opening hours for entertainment industry; limit number of passengers on public transport; require face masks in public. In Freetown a special bus service was introduced to transport health workers to/from work.
- Partial lockdown. A partial lockdown—extended from the initial 14 days in April—is in place until further notice. It restricts inter-district travel except for essential purposes, public working hours are shorter (9am to 4pm); and there is a national evening curfew (9pm to 7am). The country also implemented two full lockdowns (April 5 7 and then May 3–5) during which all were required to stay home.
With confirmed cases rising quickly, the government has indicated it does not intend to relax containment and mitigation measures in the near term.