MASK UP SIERRA LEONE: COVID-19 is real!
This week (August 7 - 14, 2020) is World Mask Week. A week set aside as part of a global move to inspire people to wear face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Fellow Country men and women, we are in the middle of a pandemic that is caused by a disease for which we have no available drug or vaccine. Our available tools for prevention remain basic. The health experts place an onus on us to be individually and collectively responsible. Hand hygiene (washing of hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizers), social distancing, and mask-wearing are our frontline tools for now. While none of these is 100% protective, face covering has become increasingly important as lockdowns are eased and people seek a full return to public life.
As of July 2020, 130 countries have mandated some mask usage nationwide (for example when on public transport), and 90 of these countries require mask-wearing anywhere outside of the home. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has moved the World Mask Week crusade a notch higher by joining various global partners to launch the global mask challenge.
Simulation studies have predicted that 80 percent of the population wearing masks would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread than a strict lockdown. These and other evidences form the basis of the admonition from His Excellency The President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Julius Maada Bio as follows "Citizens must take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19. Persons who are refusing to comply with health directives are exposing themselves, their loved ones, and their communities to the grave risk of infection and possible death."
We continue to be encouraged by other personalities of the need for wearing face masks as highlighted below:
"Proper use of face masks by everyone when among others is essential for controlling the spread of the corona virus. Everyone protects themselves and others by wearing face masks properly. So let us all play our part to get rid of the virus from our country."
Dr. Julius Spencer, Special Adviser - Risk Communications and Social Mobilisation Pillar, NACOVERC
"Young people, let's show others the Sierra Leone we want today and tomorrow - one where we protect ourselves and one another from coronavirus and drive it out of Sierra Leone." Honourable Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs
"Covid19 is disrupting our lives and our economy. It is critical that we wear our masks to break the chain of transmission, get new cases down to zero and begin the process of recovery." Her Lordship Yvonne Aki Sawyer, Mayor of Freetown.
"Studies continue to prove that mask wearing wherever you are in public, together with handwashing and social distancing, helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by always wearing a mask which covers your mouth, your nose and your chin."
Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative.
"I wear my mask to protect myself and others. So, mask up and save lives."
Dr James Bagonza, Head of IOM Sierra Leone.
Dear Sierra Leoneans, we can spread COVID-19 even when we do not have any symptoms. Sustained community masking in public is therefore critical to stopping the spread. Wearing a face mask is now part of the new normal that we need to adapt to. At least, until we have a vaccine and or medication to treat COVID-19.
As part of the global mask challenge, people all over the world are encouraged to publicize photos of themselves wearing a mask. At the Sierra Leone News Agency, we are proud to support World Mask Week and call on all to rally their friends, family and neighbours to adorn a mask in public, and to wear them properly too: Cover the nose and mouth!!
Wearing a mask shows you care for each other. The coronavirus pandemic is not over. It is still here and spreading in Sierra Leone, and it is spreading rapidly in far too many places around the globe. But there is hope! If we pull together in solidarity - if we pledge to wear a mask when in public correctly and consistently - we can slow the spread. And we can save lives!
Lonta ka da Bai! For love of Mama Salone
Yeama Sarah Thompson