Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown goes into a two-week lockdown starting Monday, as the government revises measures to contain the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sierra Leone remains one of the countries least hit by the pandemic, in terms of both cases and fatalities.
But the government said a steady rise in new cases since December has necessitated a review of the measures.
The National Covid-19 Response Center (NaCOVERC) last week announced sweeping measures that include the shutting of the Western Area, which entails the capital city and its surrounding communities, from the rest of the country.
Nobody will be allowed to enter or leave the area under lockdown, except essential personnel and travellers who have special permission and a negative Covid-19 test result.
A 7-hour curfew nationwide, from 10 pm to 5 am, will also come into effect on Monday.
In the new measures, bars and restaurants countrywide are prohibited from operating, while sporting activities will only be allowed indoors and with no spectators. Worshippers will only be allowed to congregate in houses of worship for one and a half hours.
NaCOVERC said that it would also conduct community testing.
In addition, only people with negative Covid-19 test results will be allowed to board a plane. All inbound passengers will be required to complete a locator form, through which they can be located and subjected to treatment if their test results turn out to be positive for the coronavirus.
The current measures will be reviewed after two weeks.
At the beginning of this year, the country introduced a strict screening of travellers at the airport following the sharp rise in coronavirus cases which was blamed on inbound travellers.
Until the beginning of December, Sierra Leone had been praised for successfully containing the spread of the virus, being one of the countries in Africa with the lowest cumulative number of cases of the pandemic. The country then was recording few daily cases and sometimes going for days without recording any new case.