The new number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported daily in Sierra Leone has plateaued during the month of July with the current daily average of 9.5 new cases per day. While confirmed cases are roughly equivalent between women and men (46 and 54 per cent, respectively), those who have died are predominantly male (68.7 per cent). Seventy-four per cent of all cases are over 45 years of age; four per cent of confirmed cases are children under 5; seven per cent are children aged 5-14; and 15 per cent are youth aged 15-24. The case fatality rate has dropped from 4.1 per cent at the end of June to 3.7 per cent at the end of July. The median age for COVID deaths is 58 years old.
Health care workers account for 9.3 per cent of all confirmed cases and have served 17,639 COVID-19 tests since the first case was reported on 31 March 2020. Since then, the peak positivity rate was reported at 19.9 per cent during week 8 of the response and has gradually decreased to 3.5 per cent during week 18 in the last week of July.
The highest number of positive cases remains to be in Western Area districts with 57.8 per cent of all cases. Kenema, Bo and Port Loko districts have reported the next highest cases at 6.2 per cent, 5.6 per cent and 4.8 per cent, respectively.
Partial re-opening of schools has occurred for exam students only with strict infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in place, including handwashing stations at all entry points to the schools, use of face masks and social distancing in practice.
Commercial flights resumed operations on 22 July with few airlines serving Sierra Leone. The inter-district travel ban has also been lifted and the curfew reduced to 11pm-5am daily. Restrictions on market operations and prayer services have also been eased. While these efforts have reduced the transportation costs and long wait time for importation of supplies, as well as re-established access to income generating activities dependent on cross-border and inter-district travel, at the same time these relaxed measures may lead to increased transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, continued government-regulated use of face masks, social distancing and handwashing will help to ensure COVID incidence continues on its downward trend.
A first shipment of COVID-19 medical supplies procured with funding from the World Bank was officially handed over to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) on 13 July.
UNICEF assisted the Directorate of Primary Health Care (DPHC) in developing and planning a training programme for CHWs and Periphery Health Unit (PHU) staff who supervise CHWs. The master training was completed in July.
UNICEF supported the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) to conduct a training of trainers for over 900 teachers and school authorities. Teaching and learning materials were also provided to approximately 21,000 children in exam classes in addition to WASH materials for over 7,700 students.
Communication around school safety protocol and promotion of COVID-19 prevention behaviours, including simulcast programmes through the IRN radio network, public announcements in communities, and printing and dissemination of flyers and posters in schools and communities was conducted by MBSSE with UNICEF support.
UNICEF delivered WASH supplies consisting of buckets with lids, soap, tarpaulin and water purification tablets to five District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) across the country.
Community-based mental health and psycho-social support was provided to a total of 6,286 children, parents and primary caregivers through the Psychosocial Pillar (PSS) with support from UNICEF. Trainings of 360 frontline personnel on Psychological First Aid (PFA), child protection case management and gender-based violence (GBV) reporting was also conducted with UNICEF support.
An estimated 14,072 households were reached thus far through an emergency cash transfer programme aimed at households of informal workers in urban areas. The programme is ongoing.
RapidPro continued to be deployed as a tool to support Education, Health and Risk Communication & Social Mobilisation activities. One poll indicated that 62 per cent who respondents thought that violence against girls and boys had increased in their communities since schools closed.