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Interview with Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Senegal

3 April 2020 at 01:07 | 1753 views

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Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Senegal, Brima Koroma (seen on the left in photo with President Julius Maada Bio) has called on health workers in Sierra Leone to remain professional at all time, remain committed to the cause and take all the necessary precautions in handling the Coronavirus.

In this interview with journalist Ishmael Baryoh, Ambassador Koroma said following the outbreak in Senegal, no Sierra Leonean has been infected or quarantined and that the embassy is in touch with them and urging them to adhere to government regulations and to take precautionary measures.

Ismael Baryoh: Can you start by telling the readers about the current situation of Covid-19 in Senegal?

Brima Koroma: Thank you very much. As you may be aware Senegal reported its first Coronavirus index on 2nd March 2020 after a Frenchman returned to Senegal on board Air France on 26th February. He was immediately quarantined and tested afterward. Since then the number keeps on soaring. The good news is that doctors at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar where the tests are performed say the use of chloroquine was encouraging and of 175 cases as at today 40 have been cured. Yes the numbers keep increasing but no death has been registered.

IB:How safe are Sierra Leoneans resident in the country and what precautionary measures have been taken for the embassy staff?

BK: Following the outbreak of the virus the government of Senegal declared a State of Emergency and ordered the closure of schools and universities throughout the country and banned all public gatherings and imposed a curfew.
Military personnel have been deployed to ensure compliance. No Sierra Leonean so far has been affected. As the number of cases increases daily, the embassy, in line with most of the diplomatic missions temporarily suspended operations, so also is our mission maintaining social distance and the use of hand sanitizers.

IB: What form of sensitization is the embassy embarking on towars Sierra Leoneans?

BK: Mostly through the government directives and adherence to the Coronavirus health rules; everybody is complying with the directives.Through social media groups the Sierra Leone Union is encouraging members to take government directives seriously to avoid any breach of the law.We have put out notices to encourage them to limit their movements in a bid to contain the virus.

IB: Has anyone been infected or quarantined?

BK: As I stated earlier, no Sierra Leonean has conrtacted the virus as at the time of this interview and we hope and pray we maintain the situation in this way until the virus is declared over.

IB: What lessons from Dakar do you think could be learnt as Sierra Leone has recorded its first case?

BK: Before the virus struck, our President Dr. Julius Maada Bio was on the right trajectory when he declared a State of public Emergency and the closure of our borders.This was done to contain the virus from entering the country.
Now that it has been confirmed, the safety rules and compliance have to be pursued vigorously. Curfew should be declared and anyone found breaking those rules should be dealt with accordingly.

IB: Some of the Sierra Leoneans resident in Senegal are engaged in business and other forms of work. How has that affected them?

BK: This virus has been declared by the WHO as a pandemic. By enforcing the safety regulations to avoid the spread of the virus, no single person or group of persons is being spared the brunt of the virus. Indeed the petty traders and those plying the route to Senegal are adversely affected as there is no business going on now. The whole country is at a standstill and the effect of the virus on the economy is felt far and wide.

IB: What messages does the embassy send to them in terms of their safety during this period?

BK: To stay at home and avoid unnecessary movements. With the curfew in place we urge them to respect the laws of the land.

IB: What lesson or lessons could our health workers learn from their Senegalese counterparts in the fight against Covid-19?

BK: As professionals let them remain committed to the cause and take all the necessary precautions in handling the virus.The medical personnel in Dakar, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Action gives regular updates on the progression of the virus. With the whole country behind the President’s declaration including opposition parties, civil society organizations and the diplomatic missions, much awareness has been raised.

IB: How is the Senegalese media collaborating with the governemnt in curbing the virus?

BK: The media here is at the forefront of the fight against the virus. Daily updates are translated into all the major languages in the country, relayed throughout the various print and electronic media.

IB: What message do you have for the people of Sierra Leone?

BK: Ours is not as serious as elsewhere, but that perception will change quickly if we narrow this fight to partisan fights and flout all safety regulations government has put in place. Let us be resilient in this fight and by the grace of Allah ours will vanish as quickly as it came. Maintain social distance and observe social behavior. Together we can defeat the virus. Stay at home and may God bless Sierra Leone.

IB: Thank you for this interview, Ambassador.

BK: You’re welcome.

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