By Jerry Fisayo-Bambi and AFP
The authorities of Sierra Leone have announced a new lockdown of the capital Freetown and a night curfew throughout the country to counter the “exponential” increase of Covid cases in the country.
These measures, like others made public Thursday, come into effect from Monday, for two weeks initially, said in a statement from the Government center for response to COVID-19.
Freetown has recorded more than half of the cases of contamination in the country.
The authorities decided to restrict entry and exit from the Western Area, the territory corresponding to Freetown and its surroundings.
Travel outside Freetown considered essential is subject to a negative Covid test within 72 hours. An electronic pass will be introduced “to regulate essential movements,” the center said. It will also be accessible through a mobile application.
A curfew will be re-established throughout the country from 22H00 to 5H00 (local and GMT).
Restaurants and bars will have to remain closed on weekends and the wearing of masks remains mandatory in public places.
“Since December 2020, we observe an exponential increase in confirmed cases of Covid-19, largely due to the holiday season”, explains the government center.
Sierra Leone has reported 3,081 cases of COVID-19 and 77 deaths since March 2020.
Four out of five (80%) cases of infection were detected during routine testing or in travelers leaving the country. This is “a strong indication of active community transmission,” where the precise source of infection is undetermined, a sign of virus circulation and a complicating factor in the response” the government center said.
The former British colony of 7.5 million people had been hard hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which killed nearly 4,000 people in the country between 2014 and 2016. It is still struggling to recover from a civil war that killed some 120,000 people nearly 20 years after the end of the conflict.