Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Sierra Leone announce nationwide lockdown May 3-5, to curb the spread of COVID-19. Other measures remain.

This alert affects Sierra Leone

This alert began 02 May 2020 04:23 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Sierra Leone announced a three-day nationwide lockdown May 3-5, in addition to the existing measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Other movement and restrictive travel measures are highlighted below.

  • Indefinite nationwide partial lockdown.
  • Nonessential interdistrict travel is prohibited. Under the order, Western Urban and Western Rural will be considered a single district. Essential travelers will require a pass.
  • Nationwide 2100-0600 curfew.
  • Nonessential businesses will close. Businesses trading in food, medicine, and fuel will remain open.
  • The government advises persons to remain indoors unless there is an essential reason to be outdoors.
  • The government encourages citizens to wear face masks.
  • Land borders are closed, and international commercial passenger flight operations at Freetown International Airport (FNA) remain suspended. The transport of cargo through the land borders is likely to continue, albeit with increased screenings at land border crossing points that could result in disruptions to supply chains. Emergency flights will still be allowed to proceed via FNA, the only international airport in the country.
  • The status of maritime transportation and seaports is unclear; however, disruptions are likely due to enhanced health screenings at ports of entry.


Additional measures are likely to be taken by the authorities and could be announced at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Sierra Leone's government correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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