Sierra Leone: COVID-19 outbreak
Sierra Leone reported its first two confirmed case of COVID-19 on 30 March and 02 April. Sierra Leone was one of the last West African countries having no confirmed cases although it was one of the only countries in Africa having COVID-19 testing prior to the global outbreak. Three new testing sites have recently been set up and can undertake up to 40 tests a day with capacity to install a 130 bed isolation unit; China has also donated additional tests, respirators, and PPE. It is unclear if this capacity is concentrated in Freetown or is across the country.
The country is likely to face challenges if the virus is not contained and there is a large outbreak, especially in its capital and biggest city, Freetown. In 2015 the greater Freetown area was the country’s Ebola epicentre, seeing high caseloads and a lack of coping capacity. Current plans are informed by lessons learned, although the infrastructural and economic conditions of much of the city’s inhabitants are challenging and may hamper COVID-19 prevention efforts.