MCH COVID-19 Prepardness Response

As of April 23rd, 64 positive cases of COVID-19 have been declared and quarantined in Sierra Leone. The outbreak has reached its third week with a rise of cases from 1 per day to 11 per day. The country led a 3 days lockdown on April 3rd   for contact tracing and management of the cases. One death has been recorded and Ten recoveries so far.

Freetown National Airport has closed down since March 21st prohibiting all ingoing and outgoing flights. Land borders are closed for passengers from neighboring countries; Internally, a public state of emergency has been declared on March 17th, all public gathering has been suspended such as churches, Mosques and sports activities. Schools and universities closed their doors, hand washing and social distancing measures have been implemented.

The government medical facilities are being benefitted with donations from other organizations or countries like China to contain the outbreak yet resources are limited and not sufficient for a population of 8 Million. Concerning the healthcare system and all hospitals, the government has set new regulations and guidelines to be followed.

Patients/ visitors arriving to Magbenteh Community hospital need to pass through triages. First triage located on the main entrance. A team of two nurses and a security guard ensure proper hand washing procedure which is followed by temperature checking, medical history questionnaire and latest travels.

MCH started to strengthen the IPC protocols by end of February. The cleaning team is equipped with protection gears such as boots, gloves, hand sanitizers and masks. They were trained during the EVD outbreak on biological and medical waste management to respect all Infection prevention and Control protocols by WHO and CDC. The hospital medical team is in direct contact with the district help medical team to give and receive all COVID-19 updates.

Yet Magbenteh Community hospital has no resources neither conditions to treat COVID-19 patients, in fact the hospital struggles to find medical material for the general running of the hospital, for example: shortness on reagent to process general laboratory samples on tropical diseases.

In the light of the COVID 19 situation, patients seeking medical help in MCH and all other hospitals has come to a halt, the patients attendance decreased by more than 50%. Sierra Leoneans have a mentality regarding the whole pandemic that whenever they access hospitals they will be injected with the Virus. Such sociological behavior happened during EVD outbreak and is repeating now. In that light, MCH had to reduce the staff capacity due to low attendance among the patients. Another reason is due to our experience during EVD scourge, most of the staff were practicing at home and got infected. They came to the hospital and infected their colleagues. Since social distancing is a warrant for COVID 19 reducing staff is considered an effective prevention.