INSPECTOR GENERAL SANCTIONS POLICE EFFORTS TO FIGHT EBOLA VIRUS IN SIERRA LEONEJuly 2, 2014
Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu has sanctioned the Sierra Leone Police as an integral part of the effort to fight the Ebola Virus. His statements came in support of the affirmation given to the Police by His Excellency the President in his address to the nation on Tuesday 1st July 2014. In his address, His Excellency recognized the role of the Police as an integral part of the fight against the spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.
He mentioned specifically that while tracing suspected cases and taking them to observation and treatment centres are integral to the fight against the disease, the main way to stop the spread of the virus is by preventing contact with persons with the virus. In the event, the Police force together with health personnel is expected to be at the fore front of combating this scourge in Sierra Leone. President Koroma went on to stress that he had instructed the police to “ensure that all vehicles and their passengers entering and leaving Kailahun and Kenema Districts subject themselves to screening.”
In supporting Government’s efforts to combat the disease, IG Munu has instructed that adequate and appropriate information be released to all rank and file police officers and more specifically for chlorine to be made available at all frontline stations and police posts in the affected areas. He also stressed the need for vigilance within the force and for personnel who are apprised of any suspect situation or casualty to report such cases immediately to local health experts and not to touch or attempt to move such fatalities without proper protective apparel. He noted that this directive is necessary because it has been declared that the virus is at its most vicious stage within a dead body.
Senior members of the Sierra Leone Police also rendered their support to the IGP in a meeting of the police Executive Board Meeting held to discuss the outbreak and the police strategic response. AIG Kalia Sesay, Director of Peacekeeping indicated that the matter of containment should be given a priority and that the Sierra Leone Police must use their best endeavors to support health officials in containing the disease and help in tracing and surrendering of suspected cases for treatment.
Inspector General Munu informed his senior staff that their mandate is now guided by the President’s call for national action and that all stakeholders should not relent in this fight against the deadly disease. He noted particularly that His Excellency has buttressed police powers to uphold the law, specifically in relation to the provisions of the Public Health Order Act of 1960. This law states that anyone who obstructs or interferes with the performance of the medical team in relation to an outbreak such as Ebola is guilty of an offence and liable to punishment.
IG Munu also reiterated the police duty to protect life and their mandate to uphold the law by drawing senior staff attention to the President’s ban on all Lumas or trade fairs until the virus has been effectively contained. This task, he told his senior staff is to be disseminated to all local police units across the country. The police, he added are central to this battle against Ebola and he encouraged all rank and file of the sierra Leone police to adhere to medical and public health guidelines at all times
Inspector General Munu also confirmed that the Sierra Leone Police is sending one police support unit to Kenema to increase the number of police necessary to operationalize the President’s directives. The Sierra Leone Police will also deploy two additional police vehicles to Daru and Kailahun to support medical staff and to deal with any incidence of public disorder that may occur. These measures the Inspector General of Police added are in addition to putting together an operational plan for any ensuing public disorder. Finally, the IG confirmed that in complementing government’s efforts across the country, the police is carrying out its own internal sensitization on how to handle the disease and prevent police personnel from getting infected by the virus.