Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Sierra Leone continue easing of COVID-19 restrictions through July. Land and air border closures remain in place.

  • Alert Begins: 10 Jul 2020 12:30 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
On July 9, Sierra Leone authorities announced the easing of restrictive measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after the initial expiration of lockdown measures in May 2020. As part of this easing of measures, the current 2300-0600 curfew will be reduced to 2300-0500 from July 13. Places of worship can also resume services from July 13. Lungi International Airport (FNA) in Freetown will also be allowed to resume services from July 22. Inter-district travel had been allowed to resume at an earlier date.

Despite the easing of restrictions, a 12-month public health emergency declared in March remains in place. Land borders are closed, and the status of maritime transportation and seaports is unclear; however, disruptions are likely due to enhanced health screenings at ports of entry. The wearing of face masks is compulsory in all public spaces. 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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