COVID-19 Updates from the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone

Council's Statement on Corona Virus (COVID-19)

The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) on behalf of its Member Churches records its apprehension and concern over the ongoing Corona Virus pandemic not sparing any country in the World.

We thank God that He has so far spared our beloved country Sierra Leone. We are grateful with the assurances of preparedness given by H.E. the President and Officials of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

However we are guided by the adage that "prevention is better than cure." During the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in Sierra Leone in 2015, the whole nation collaborated as a united front to fight the disease. In the same vein, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone is appealing to all Sierra Leoneans to stand united in our fight against the Corona Virus pandemic. For us to observe the prescribed preventive measures for our continued safety individually as well as a nation.

To this end we call all constituent member Churches and the entire Sierra Leonean community to fully support government's directives on the prevention of the Corona Virus in Sierra Leone by strictly adhering to the following:
- No worship services in all Churches till further notice
- No weddings and funerals in religious places of worship
- Safe and dignified funeral services must be limited to twenty-five persons and should be held at funeral homes or mortuary.
- Wash our hands regularly (as often as possible) for not less than 20 (twenty) seconds.
- All religious places to use Veronica buckets and water at all entrances.
- Use sanitizers at all times
- Avoid handshakes. Greet others by placing your right hand on your chest.
- Cover up our mouth and nostrils when sneezing and coughing
- Avoid crowded places.
- Report to the nearest hospital if you have cold, flu or any unusual symptom
- Dial 117

Corona Virus is quite different from the Ebola virus. Someone will stand next to you looking hale and hearty only to be tested positive the next minute. So we really have to be extra careful. In the Ebola era we prayed, and took prevention and care. At this time- we also call on all CCSL Member Churches to observe 7 (seven) days of prayer and fasting to save our country from this devastating pandemic. We recommend Wednesday 25th to Tuesday 31st March 2020.

God bless Sierra Leone and God bless us all.

Bishop John K. Yambasu
President
Council of Churches in Sierra Leone

_________

March 25th, 2020

Greetings for the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone

We here in Sierra Leone are one of the rare countries where there is as yet no confirmed case of the Coronavirus. Our government has instituted a number of actions that have contributed to that: Airport is closed, all passengers arriving prior to the closure were quarantine for 14 days, Borders to Liberia and Guinea are closed with the Military ensuring that no one enters the country officially or unofficially. All trading and commerce is limited to the hours between 7 AM and 7PM - and again the military is ensuring that the hours are strictly kept. Churches and Mosques are closed. Schools will close on the 31st March and today the President declared a State of Public Health Emergency - giving him a broad range of powers to act related to the Coronavirus without Parliamentary debate and approval.

CCSL, with other Faith groups, have met with the President for advice on the pandemic, and to assure him of our prayers for him and prayers that the pandemic will not enter the country. He has intimated that if the Pandemic enters the country, he will most likely "shut the country down" as has been done in many places around the world. We have also met with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to ensure that we are all sending the same message to the people of Sierra Leone.

At a meeting of the Executive Committee of Council, CCSL called on all members to observe 7 (seven) days of fasting & prayer for our nation and the World from 25th - 31st March 2020.

CCSL has sent messages to pastors and Church leaders through the Heads of Churches related to various prevention actions "just in case." Interestingly, a couple of years ago, CCSL was instrumental in facilitating the establishment of a Christian Radio Station in Koinadugu District - a district that is heavily Muslim populated. The Radio station, Radio Shalom, is operated by the Christian Reformed Church. Today the informed us that the Muslims in the area have requested that they be allowed to use the Shalom Radio to broadcast various Coronavirus prevention actions as well as relaying to their people the governments ban on worship services. CCSL and the Operators, The Christian Reformed Church have agreed to the request. On the cusp of a disaster and because of that "cusp of disaster," the relationships between the Christians and Muslims continue to grow towards trust and respect.

We too are praying for our partners around the world who are under siege by this virus. Be assured of our continued prayers until this has passed.

Ebun James-Dekam
General Secretary
Council of Churches in Sierra Leone