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Sierra Leone declares emergency despite not recording Covid-19 cases

Tuesday March 24 2020

Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEMO CHAM
By KEMO CHAM
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Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio on Tuesday declared a state of public emergency in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic despite not recording any cases.

He said the move is meant to enable the government to appropriately respond to the pandemic, noting that it would allow it to prevent, protect, and curtail entry of the virus into the country.

While Sierra Leone has not confirmed any case of the viral disease, its neighbours Guinea and Liberia have.

“The rapid global spread of coronavirus poses immense risk to human beings that can lead to major loss of life and can cause socio-economic disruption in Sierra Leone. This situation requires effective measures,” he said in a televised address on Tuesday.

The state of emergency, which takes effect immediately, is to last for 12 months, he added.

Parliament is debating a Bill to approve the declaration as required by the Constitution.

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Over the weekend a ban on all international flights into the country came into effect. The focus for government now, say officials, is at border entry points.

As of Monday, Liberia has recorded three cases of the viral disease while Guinea had four cases.

The military has been deployed at border areas in line with an earlier declaration by the president.