Concord Times (Freetown)

30 May 2014

Sierra Leone: Outbreak of Deadly Virus! Kenema Lab in Ebola Readiness

Photo: Ismail Kasooha/New Vision
Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital in Uganda.

District Medical Officer at the Kenema Government Hospital yesterday confirmed to Concord Times that the hospital has a laboratory and competent staff to handle cases of the deadly Ebola virus. He was speaking in the wake of fears of a new outbreak in eastern Sierra Leone, bordering Guinea and Liberia, with the former having been seriously hit by the deadly virus.

Health officials in Sierra Leone this week confirmed seven suspected cases with one dead in a village in Kissi Teng, close to the Guinea border.

There are, however, conflicting reports about the exact number of people infected by the deadly virus.

Health Ministry officials though have confirmed several suspected cases of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90%, have been registered although they all tested negative.

Dr. Mohamed A. Vandi at the Kenema Government Hospital said all suspected cases of Ebola in any part of the country are first reported to the hospital for proper medical examination, noting that he has engaged stakeholders including medical experts on how the disease can be tackled in the country.

"This is an excellent hospital with the required equipment to handle such cases. Dr. Khan and his team are working hard to save lives in Sierra Leone," he said.

Reports from Koindu, Kissy Teng chiefdom in the Kailahun district, where the first Ebola case was discovered in the country, revealed that there was a serious confrontation between community members and health officers who had gone to relocate suspected Ebola cases to isolation wards in the district.

According to a resident of Koindu, Sahr Kamanda, police had to fire teargas canisters to dispatch the crowd.

"It was a serious matter here yesterday but that has been laid to rest and the people have now returned to their normal activities," he said.

In another development, Ministry of Health, in collaboration with members of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), has mobilized and trained volunteers and staff in community awareness raising on Ebola across the country.

Journalists from various parts of the country were also trained to engage the public on the control and prevention of the dreaded disease.

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