Mercy Hospital's village outreach teams have quickly developed a COVID preparedness initiative to serve their communities with sensitivity and effectiveness. Village communities may be fearful and superstitious about the COVID virus because of their experiences during the Ebola outbreak. Mercy outreach teams will focus on building trust and teaching clients how to stay safe, with the use of visual props, hand washing demonstrations, and other methods.
Mercy Hospital has quickly adapted to the threat of COVID-19, although as of mid-April the virus had not been detected in Bo. The Sierra Leonean government called for another nationwide lock down beginning last Saturday to restrict inter-district travel. People will not need to stay at home, but they may not leave their districts. Citizens are encouraged to stay home during the curfew hours of 9pm to 6am to prevent the spread of COVID.
As of Monday, April 13, there were 10 confirmed cases in the capital city of Freetown. All 10 cases were in the designated treatment facility and in stable condition. There was one suspected COVID patient in Bo three weeks ago, but it turned out to be negative.
Mercy Hospital has made the following preparations:
The Child Reintegration Centre staff took to the streets of Bo this past week to teach proper hand washing techniques, especially seeking out street children who are very vulnerable to contagious disease.
The country has been extremely proactive against the disease, initiating prevention protocols such as school closings, cancelling gatherings of more than 10 people (including weddings and funerals), and reactivating the hand washing stations of the Ebola time. CRC and Mercy plan to supply the communities they serve with "Veronica" buckets for hand washing stations, bars of soap, disposable towels (serviettes), and lidded garbage cans to improve sanitary conditions. You can support their COVID response by donating here.
The CRC created a short video to teach proper handwashing, which has been their standard practice since the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak. To get ahead of COVID transmission, the entire country of Sierra Leone was in a 72 hour lock down from Sunday April 5 through Tuesday April 7.
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