APC Abandons High Level Meeting

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The Main Opposition Party, All Peoples’ Congress (APC) has cancelled a high level profile meeting it was scheduled to hold to day Thursday 19th March, 2020, for senior members of the Party.

A statement issued yesterday, 18th March, from the party’s Secretariat  said that  ‘’the meeting  that was scheduled for Thursday 19th March2020 on the Corona Virus Disease sanitization and the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) 2020 Verification and Registration Exercise has been cancelled until further notice’’

According to the statement, the meeting was for Members of Parliament (MPs), District Council Chairmen, City Council Mayors, Regional Chairmen and Secretaries, District Chairmen and Secretaries.

However, the statement which was signed by the Party’s Secretary General, Ambassador Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh did not give reasons for the cancellation of the meeting.

But said, ‘’The Party regrets any incontinence this may have caused and counts on the understanding and usual cooperation,’’ It said.

Gov’t Officials at Quarantine Facilities

Government officials including the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, and Minister of Health, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie,   yesterday, 18th March, 2020 paid an unannounced visit to the three quarantine facilities in Lungi designated for the coronavirus.

The facilities are stationed at the in Lungi International Airport, north of the country.

The two senior government officials who were accompanied by other members of the committee set up to handle the prevention of the virus have been asked by the President Dr Julius Maada Bio to get first-hand information on the status of people being accommodated in places transformed into such confinement facilities and to further gauge the preparedness level of health workers at that entry point.

The minister of health encouraged people, who had arrived into the country by air from different parts of the world, to allow to be quarantined as part of the measures in place to manage any possible case of the coronavirus, adding that they might be aware of the strangeness of the infectious disease ravaging the world partly because of the difficulty in detecting it without having to quarantine them for 14 days of the incubation period for the coronavirus. 

Professor Wurie stated that so far that was one of the most effective ways to make sure that people coming from different countries protect themselves and their families.

“We started quarantining passengers from 4 February 2020, but this is the first time we are having a larger number of passengers in quarantine. We have released 68 people and none of them showed any sign of the virus. We have not said you are infected with the virus, but also we have no reason to believe that you don’t have the virus. We want you to show this country that you are patriots by staying away from society for 14 days, after which everyone will be allowed to go about their normal business,” he explained.

The Chief Minister, Professor Francis told passengers that their instruction from the President was to visit the said places and see what obtained on the ground, adding that the coronavirus was a global problem challenging bigger economies with advanced and sophisticated healthcare systems.

“Sierra Leone is the only country within the Man River countries that has not recorded any case of this deadly virus. We are here to assure all of you that we are trying our best as a government to ensure that there is no case of coronavirus in Sierra Leone. But if accidentally we record any, we will be on better grounds to eradicate it immediately and entirely,’’ he said.

He assured them of three meals per day in all quarantine facilities, adding that all essential items that would keep them safe during the 14-days period would be provided by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

He further stated that it was difficult for people to be quarantined, especially when they would have travelled for long and wanted to see their family members. He, therefore, admonished them to show the highest level of compliance and ensure that the protocols and guidelines stated by the World Health Organization for people in quarantine were observed.

BAR ASSOCIATION OPENS Book OF CONDOLENCE FOR LATE Solomon BEREWA

BY FEIMA SESAY

The Sierra Leone BAR Association in collaboration with the Judiciary of Sierra Leone on Wednesday 18th March, 2020 at the High Court No1 Building opened a Book of Condolence in respect of the late Solomon Ekuma Berewa Esq.

Prior to the signing of the book, the Acting Chief Justice of the Judiciary Justice, Nicolas Brown Mark in his tribute described the late man as a very dedicated and hard working lawyer who contributed immensely to the development and expansion of not only the Judiciary but the Country as a whole.

He said he came to know the late Solomon Berewa in 1975 and that they both worked together at the Law Officers Department.

He revealed further that it was due the hard work and dedication of the late man that the Director of Public Prosecution officer was established in 1978 under the constitution of the country.

 Justice Mark explained that the former Vice President was appointed Acting Senior State Counsel for Bo district and was later transferred to Kenema as the Regional State prosecutor.

He said the deceased was a distinguish personality during the time he was practicing law but said he  left the Law Officers Department in 1980 and later in 1981 went to the Gambia when prosecutors were needed  in treason case where Mr Berewa worked .

He noted that he was very methodical  and one of the best in their generation, adding that the late man did very well in the 1975 seditious libel law trial and was very effective in discharging his duties.

Justice Mark extended his condolence to the Bereaved family, adding that the death of Berewa was not only a big loss to their family but to the country as a whole.

The Attorney General Minister of Justice Dr Priscilla Schwartz in her stated that the late Solomon Berewa was not only a Barrister and Solicitor, Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, but once a former vice president of the Republic of Sierra Leone who served his country well.

She said the late man was one of the tallest leaders in the BAR Association and that his dedication to his job could not suffice.

The A.G, Dr.Priscilla Schwartz said late Solomon Berewa born in 1939 and was a teacher before becoming a lawyer in 1972, adding that his dream to becoming a lawyer was to contribute to the development of Sierra Leone and was rated as one of the renowned lawyers in the country.

She added that the late man decided not to go into private practice but government legal services which is the Law Officers Department and served in that capacity as State Counsel between 1973-1980, and later posted to Bo as Acting State Counsel in 1976, he was transfer to Kenema as Regional State Prosecutor for his brilliant work and left in 1980.

She added that the deceased later set up a private law firm , Betts & Berewa which she described as  one of the most successful firms in the country.

She disclosed further that the late man was one of the best prosecutors in his generation and later appointed as the Attorney General Minister of Justice in 1996 and later rose to the position of Vice President of Republic of Sierra Leone.

According to her, it was due to the successful and skillful negotiating powers of the deceased that led to the creation of the Special Court and the signing of the Lome Peace Accord to which he ensured that the law was not compromised.

She added that when she was appointed as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, he was the first person she contacted to be guarded properly on how to discharge her duties.

She said Berewa fought a good fight for not only his Family, Bar

 Association , but country at large.

Lawyer Francis Gabidon Esq. in  his tribute on behalf of the BAR Association described the late Solomon Berewa as a Hero who he  met in England in 1970 when he went to study law after he had  a very distinguish carrier as  the head of Cooperate department.

He said the deceased always distinguished himself while executing his duties and that his lost is a pity to the country. He emphasized he was a brilliant lawyer and a down to earth a person.

Amos Simche Lansana, a grandson of the late man in his vote of thanks extended appreciation to the Bar Association, Judiciary and well wishers who supported them during this time of Bereavement.

The Book of Condolence was signed by the Acting Chief Justice Brown Mark, Attorney General Minister of Justice, judges, magistrates, senior lawyers and well wishers.

OARG on Decentralization move

Saptieu Elizabeth Saccoh, Administrator and Registrar General of OARG

By: Amara Kargbo

In providing virtuous services, cost effective with timely registration, Office of Administrator and Registrar General (OARG) has outstandingly decentralized it services to the door-step of people in the provincial districts.

According to Saptieu Elizabeth Saccoh, Administrator and Registrar General of OARG, the previous districts offices were functionally impotent; hence, despite their physical structure but that there was no operation to be envisioned because of negligence, she said.

Registrar Saccoh said that they equipped their regional offices with a modernized automation and digitalization of records, or VPN connectivity which links the head quarter office in Freetown to that of the provincial offices, exceptionally, it has  enhanced a smooth operation in the agency through its technological apparatus.

She explained that people utterly cuddled such initiative the agency has established because the regional people have been longing for such facility.

 She mentioned that the agency is charged with errands to business, civil marriage, legal instruments, intellectual properties, gratuity and administration of estate registrations.

 She added that the agency does generate revenue for the state when its activities need to be decentralized neither not to just limit its functions in the peripheral districts in Freetown, instead there are businesses that do operate in the countryside which the agency could acquire funds from.

 During her regional tour, she said Makeni, Bo and Kenema offices that they were not conducive for administrative purposes especially in implementing their core functions across the country; and that the work force of the agency needs to operate in a friendly environment.

 She noted that a huge number of people did not have knowledge about the agency, but with a robust public sensitization on different media platforms across the country that had led the agency to reach its target clients.

‘’The agency has been encountering restrains when its provincial offices were not been effectively operating which caused the agency to lose a lot of revenue most times.

The agency has been able to work towards its programmes with support of the ministry of finance and Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been giving considerable attention to the agency for it to continue discharging reputable services delivering, ‘’ she said.

Her office, she noted is still looking forward to their 2019-2020 budget allocation  which she said the agency needs for it to implement more activities.

For her, her office is a strategic partner to businesses and stakeholders, and a catalyst for the creation of an enabling environment for doing business in Sierra Leone.

Africa Society Medicine Capacities Health Personnel on AMR

By Amara Kargbo

Africa Society for Lab Medicine, Ministry of Health and Sanitation with support from Global partners has held two-days Anti-Microbia Resistance (AMR) data collection capacity training, at Radisson Blu hotel in Freetown.

 Edwin Shumba, African Society for Laboratory Medicine, doubles as the AMR programme manager described the training as a means of enhancing partners, and policy makers to enforce decisions on how to combat AMR.

He said it was projected that by 2050, the global economy would have lost more than hundred trillion United States Dollars to AMR, and they are much anticipating that more than ten million people would have perished to AMR.

Facilitator Shumba applauded the commitment of health minister, Dr. Alph T.Wurie for his joint effort with other bodies to collect data that will serve as a strategy for combating AMR. 

The initiative of Africa Society for Lab Laboratory Medicine is operating within fourteen African countries and the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The training session aims to provide enough digitalized data baseline for Sierra Leone that will be usable as well as to increase awareness about AMR.

SL Grammar Sch 75th Anniversary Thanksgiving Cancel 

SIERRA LEONE GRAMMAR SCHOOL –OBA (UK)

PRESS RELEASE

Fellow Regentonians, distinguished guests, and well-wishers,

 It is with great regret that our Association through an ad hoc special committee setup for this purpose has made a decision to cancel our 175th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service scheduled for 22/03/2020 with immediate effect.

The basis for this cancellation had become imperative as ongoing updates on the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) which poses long term prevalence.

The ultimate decision was prompted by the update given by the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientist, today 16/03/2020, in which the Government’s advice was to avoid social gatherings, practice social distancing and avoid crowded places amongst others, due to the rise in the number of positive cases and sadly deaths recorded so far.

Our association has a duty of care to its members and supporters which we must uphold.

Meanwhile, please adhere to the advice of the Government and keep safe. I know that the good Lord will continue to watch over us and protect us through these unprecedented times.

An update on all our schedule celebrations and activities will be published in due course.

 FLOREAT REGENTONIA,

GOD BLESS OUR GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Victor JOHNSON

Secretary General

SLGSOBAUK

 Coronavirus 27 Nations Affected   In Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there are now over 300 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Africa.

WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, stated that 27 countries have been affected.

The UN health agency relayed the information via its official Twitter account @WHOAFRO.

It noted that Government of Benin on Monday confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus.

The world body further gave the breakdown of confirmed cases  in Africa  as

Algeria 48, South Africa 51, Senegal 24, Cameroon 3, Nigeria 2, Burkina Faso 7, Togo 1, DRC 3, Cote d’Ivoire 5, Ghana 2, Gabon 1,

Kenya 3, Ethiopia 4, Guinea 1, Rwanda 5, Namibia 2, E Guinea 1, Seychelles 2, CAR 1, Congo 1, Mauritania 1, Swain 1, Liberia 1, Egypt 110, Morocco 28, Tunisia 18, Sudan 1.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has urged African nations to act now that the disease has been officially declared a global pandemic.

Moeti charged every country to scale up their emergency preparedness and response.

“Cases may still be low in Africa and we can keep it that way with robust all-of-

President Bio Engages Ebola Response Team

 President Dr Julius Maada Bio has engaged members of the National Ebola Response Centre, NERC, as part of government’s preparedness to tackle any case of Coronavirus, COVID-19, in the country.

During the meeting, Chief Minister Professor David John Francis said that the President had directed the use of the Ebola Response experience to strengthen the government’s Coronavirus enhanced preparedness, adding that the Ebola Response team was meeting the President to share their experience.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Alpha Wurie, said that the virus was now closer to the country because all the other countries within the Mano River Union, MRU, apart from Sierra Leone had contracted the virus. He said that the country had the experience of the Ebola, noting that it was good to engage those who were at the helm of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreaks.

Former Chief Executive Officer of the NERC, Rtd. Major Alfred Paolo Conteh, said that the President and his government were on the right path for bringing them on board to share their experience. He said that the fight required everyone on board to avoid a repeat of the Ebola outbreak and assured that he was fully ready to serve in the interest of the country.

In his statement, President Julius Maada Bio said the footprint of the Coronavirus was uncomfortably closer, saying that Sierra Leone was the only country within the MRU without any case of the virus yet. He said he wanted the country to use its experience from dealing with the Ebola to mobilize every Sierra Leonean to be a fighter against the virus.

“We take the experience of the Ebola very seriously and we want to draw on your experience because this is a national duty. We have quite a lot to gain from your experience and we want you to be part of this effort to prevent this virus. We have done quite a lot with more to be done together,” he said.

It could be remembered that as part of the government’s preparedness efforts, President Julius Maada Bio had already conducted assessment tours of the facilities at the Infectious Diseases Prevention Centre at Wilberforce, Lungi International Airport and the Kambia Gbalamuya border with the Republic of Guinea.

ACC Presents over Le485m Recovery Cheque to SLRSA

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has presented a cheque of FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE MILLION, TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY LEONES (LE 485, 221, 230) to the Management of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) as revenue recovered from owners of heavy duty machinery, mobile cranes and trucks that had failed or refused to register and/renew their licenses with the SLRSA.

In December 2019, the Management of the SLRSA, through the Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ibrahim Sannoh, made a report and sought the assistance and support of the Commission to work with them to recover the said fees from owners of heavy machinery/vehicles, mobile cranes and trucks who over the years had failed to duly re-register or renew their licenses while continuing to do business.

Acting upon this complaint and request, the ACC, working with the SLRSA, compiled a list of the owners of this Machinery across the country, proceeded to locate the companies that owned these vehicles, and accordingly verified their data with the SLRSA. As a consequence, the SLRSA was able to calculate the amounts owed totaling SIX HUNDRED AND TEN MILLION LEONES (LE 610,000,000) and the ACC’s Prevention Department accordingly proceeded with modalities to recover same. The Cheque presented represented part of the Money recovered.

Presenting the Cheque to the Executive Director of SLRSA, the Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., emphasized that the collaboration with SLRSA was very significant as it has yielded a positive outcome. He added that the recovery process will continue, as many of the defaulting institutions and businesses have expressed willingness to pay the fees and most are in schedule to pay the agreed tranches over a period of six months. He thanked the leadership of the SLRSA for their efforts and commitment and for believing in the ACC to assist them in their efforts.

On his part, the Executive Director of the SLRSA, Mr. David Panda Noah, commended the ACC for doing a fantastic and diligent job with unquestionable result, as was promised. He expressed delight in collaborating with the ACC, and reiterated that such a move was no mistake. Mr. Panda Noah promised that the SLRSA will continue to strengthen its relationship with the Commission and will do everything within their abilities to promote the National Anti-Corruption campaign which is working very well for the collective good in the New Direction.

The brief symbolic handing over event took place at the Conference Room of the ACC, 3 Gloucester Street, Freetown on Monday, 16th March, 2020 with Senior and intermediate staff of both institutions present with the Deputy Commissioner the ACC, Mr. Augustine Foday- Ngobie, chairing the presentation.

OPINION ON CORONAVIRUS FOR  AFRICA 

By Dr Stephen Sevalie, Dr Mohammed Boie Jalloh, Dr Mohamed G Sesay, Prof Osman Sankoh

(We invite experts to join us in writing this paper. If you can contribute, please contact Mallam O privately)

Epidemics have always characterized human existence and have typically caused economic disruption. The Corona virus pandemic that started in Wuhan, China is a living example.

Even though the clinical features such as fever, cough, running nose, headache, general body and joint pains, and difficult breathing are similar to cold or flu and mortality is low, the virus continue to cause serious havoc around the globe. There are three clear problems that must be highlighted in this present ongoing pandemic. First, the virus is new, and we are not sure about its potentials leading to panic reactions; especially when the Ebola epidemic memories are not far away. Secondly, is the economic disruption hitting local economies and the global market? And thirdly, the health systems not ready to deal with a large-scale pandemic; and surge in demand for health services that government must pay for.

The first problem of panic and lack of knowledge about the Corona virus is currently being solved with advancement of science. In record breaking time, the genome of the virus has been identified, the clinical presentation of the disease is known, the route of transmission is known as well as the mortality risk.

The second problem of economic disruption may have several contributing factors. The panic influences human behavior in making economic decisions, producers are less willing to produce. Demand and supply environments become disrupted. Workers become sick and are unable to report for work, government restrictions and quarantines further destroy the economy.

The third problem of weak health system is not limited to low resource countries like Sierra Leone. Most health systems globally are not prepared to deal with large scale epidemics. Sierra Leone does not have the supplies, human resource, infrastructure and equipment to deal with large scale epidemics. This lack of resources for health justifies the worries about an epidemic. It has the potential to overwhelm the health system due to the large number of cases that may arise in a short period of time.

It must be noted however, that Sierra Leone and Africa in general have some intrinsic advantages in containing the COVID 19 pandemic. Looking at those who have been killed by the virus, more than 80% are above 60 years old, no infected child under 5 has been reported dead. And there is low attack rate in individuals below 18 years old.  Only about 0.2 percent of the dead are below 40 (reference).

With Africa’s young population, we think that we need to prepare more for our old people especially those with underlying health conditions.

The young in Africa are already mostly killed by malaria, typhoid, HIV/AIDS and pneumonia. The death of anyone in this group shouldn’t therefore be quickly attributed to the coronavirus. Thus, looking at mortality risk and disease burden does not put Corona at the top of Africa’s priority list. There are many more infectious and non-communicable diseases that continue to be killers among the young productive work force.  We must still treat the infectious and non-communicable diseases we know are the killers of Africa’s young.

Unfortunately, poor Africa and Sierra Leone may have to deal with this situation relying on little help from the outside world. The usual donors and economic giants have been severely hit by the virus and their economies are tumbling.  Therefore, we must capitalize on strategies that are effective, efficient and fit within our limited resources.

Important is to strengthen proper sanitation actions and public communication. The individual must take full responsibility.

The Sierra Leone population fortunately doesn’t smoke heavily as many others in Europe and Asia. That will help us too. This virus attacks the respiratory system, so any of our actions that make it easier for it to destroy us, must be discontinued forthwith.

First we must capitalize on our population structure. Sierra Leone’s population structure, like most African countries, has 40% of our total population under age 15. Thus, it is fair to argue that forty percent of our population belongs to a ground that this disease does not seem to affect very much. Our potentially high risk population of 60+ constitutes at most 6%. And the population between 15 and 60 years are notably low risk of mortality from the outcomes we have seen in other countries.

Further, the weather conditions may be of value and to our advantage. It is believed that the SARS epidemic disappeared during the period summer when temperatures went above 26 degree Celsius (reference). Thus, since the new Corona virus belongs to the same category as SARS it is possible this virus will not survive well in our temperate climate. We should however note that though Australia and The Philippines have higher temperatures, they have been hit by the virus. We are looking forward to understanding the effects in those countries.

What then should we do to deal with COVID 19 in the event there is an outbreak in Sierra Leone?

Our efforts must protect the population and the economy.

Protecting people will involve treating the severely sick in the limited facilities available.

– The mild and asymptomatic does not need to be admitted in hospitals.

– Hand and cough hygiene practices always adhered to by all citizens.

– Self-isolation for all those with mild flu like symptoms.

– Managed movement restrictions may only be considered areas of high intensity infections.

Protecting the economy would involve allowing work and business and internal and external exchange to continue as much as possible without excess risk.

As we develop the article, we intend to consider the vulnerabilities caused by poverty – and perhaps if possible give age-specific morbidity and mortality rates disaggregated by socioeconomic status. Research has shown that the poor sicken and die more from the common infections of our land – thus we may have greater existence of underlying conditions that increase co-morbidities for the poor should the virus strike. And perhaps that could also mean the over 60 greater vulnerability to the disease may also be lower for the poor, given their more weakened health status ( relative to the better off) as they ( the poor) aged.

Also to consider, given settlement patterns in Sierra Leone as well as in much of Africa, and the reliance of the well off on poorer members of society for household chores, there may be more social mixing at intimate distances between the relatively well off, and those who are poorer. This essentially increases the overall vulnerability of every group to the virus should it strike.

We are working on expanding this article with scientific evidence.

For now we wish to be optimistic about Africa and the coronavirus but urge everyone, including our governments, to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves.

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