On April 11, the Republic of Sierra Leone marked the start of a fourteen days inter-district lockdown (from 11 to 24 April 2020) to combat the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in the country.
The fourteen days inter-district lockdown is a significant milestone. It refers to the incubation period – 14 days – of the virus, as stipulated by the World Health Organization. If Sierra Leoneans show the maximum compliance to all social distancing regulations, it will be a remarkable turnaround for the Republic of Sierra Leone and a testament to the bravery and dedication of health workers, some of whom have been infected with the virus while treating the sick.
Sierra Leone as of Friday, 17 April 2020 has recorded 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a total of 531 in mandatory quarantine homes. This number keeps rising. The very first Coronavirus case was documented in Sierra Leone on 31 March and it involved a 37-year-old man who arrived in the country from France on an Air Brussels flight on the 16 March. Once she tested positive, she was immediately put into quarantine. It is prudent that the government has introduced social-distancing rules of varying strictness to combat the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, but, the question of how long these measures should remain in place has sparked vigorous debate. Many economists and psychologists have warned that a lengthy period of de facto home detention will damage people's financial and mental health, while epidemiologists argue that maintaining lockdowns will help to flatten the contagion curve more quickly. Policymakers designing measures to inform the countries' response to COVID-19 would have to take both views into account – a challenging dilemma and dire reality!