SLMDA STATEMENT ON THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
The general membership of Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) is concerned and well informed about the current outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus (COV).
This virus is a betacoronavirus similar to the coronavirus that caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome / Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and it was first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020. It has an incubation period between 2 and 14 days. This means if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed Coronavirus, it is unlikely that they may have been infected. It’s symptoms are nonspecific and include cough, fever, sneezing, and headache.
Currently, the outbreak has affected several countries around the world including Nigeria (in West Africa).This implies every country is at risk; and nobody is safe until we are all safe. Therefore, SLMDA is very much concerned about the welfare of the public and particularly its membership who are frontline workers in the delivery of health services in Sierra Leone. SLMDA will like the people of Sierra Leone to know that the association will continue to support the effort of the government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in the drive to promote universal health coverage for the people of Sierra Leone .Notwithstanding, we are urging the government of Sierra Leone and its partners to heighten the outbreak preparedness in both hospitals (government and private) and communities. Robust proactive actions are the only solutions to the prevention and control of a potential COVID 19 outbreak in Sierra Leone.
The general population is encouraged to practice the following measures:
- Cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Covering nose/mouth with bend elbow or tissue paper when coughing/sneezing
- Avoid contact (especially close contact such as touching) with anyone who has fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
- Stay home if unwell until the arrangement is done for transfer to hospital.
For all healthcare workers, we must remain proactive and vigilant for potential cases:
Patients with typical respiratory symptoms who in the last 2 weeks have been to countries with confirmed cases or have known contact with someone who has travelled to these areas. We do want to reiterate that following strict infection prevention control (IPC) is not optional but an essential principle that must be practiced at all times. However, the association has commenced a number of interventions regarding awareness raising and plans to train healthcare workers on outbreak preparedness.
Furthermore, SLMDA has developed a well structured Framework Assessment Tool designed mainly to rapidly assess the preparedness of our healthcare facilities (both government and private) for outbreak prevention and control. This assessment is expected to start on Monday, 2nd March 2020.
The general public will be informed on the preparedness of our health facilities for a potential outbreak.
We once again request the general public to be proactive and follow preventive measures.