The Ministry of Transport and Aviation said on Thursday that the suspension will take effect on Saturday, March 21, when all scheduled flights would have landed.
Only emergency flights will be exempted from the ban, the ministry said in a statement. “Airline operators are hereby requested to strictly adhere to this suspension notice and make all arrangements to ensure that the cutoff date will be respected,” the statement reads in part, adding: “The notice is in line with enhanced preparedness measures as directed by President Julius Maada Bio against the Coronavirus” The move is one of the latest measures announced by the government as Sierra Leone struggles to shield itself from the virus that has been recorded in all the countries neighboring it.
The development comes a day after President Julius Maada Bio announced further stringent screening measures and ordered the deployment of the military to enforce them. It followed reports of problems enforcing quarantine measures at the airport.
On Wednesday the government prevented a Japanese family from disembarking from a Kenya Airways plane after one of them was suspected of displaying signs of the virus. A total of nine airlines were registered in the country. Two of them – Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines, had earlier indicated they were shutting down their operation.
Also on Thursday evening, the Ministries of Basic and Higher education issued a joint statement ordering the closure of schools earlier than schedule.