Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Sierra Leone Changes Strategy to Fight Ebola Outbreak

Photo: FICR
The Red Cross responds to the Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea.

Washington DC — Health officials in Sierra Leone have revised their strategy for dealing with an Ebola outbreak that has left two people dead and sickened at least six others. In a VOA interview, Dr. Amara Janbai, the health ministry disease prevention director, said the government has shifted its response because the virus has become an epidemic in the country.

"We have moved our activities from preparedness to response. So, as of now, we have changed gears. We have started to bring in experts. We have started to bring in support from partners who have had this experience," Janbai said.

Medical officials in Sierra Leone said the country's confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in a district near the Guinean border.

Outbreak began in Guinea

The Ebola outbreak began in southwestern Guinea in February. Since then, the disease has killed more than 185 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.  Symptoms include fever, vomiting and bleeding through bodily openings.

Elsewhere Thursday, Guinea's capital, Conakry, has recorded its first new Ebola cases in more than a month, while other previously unaffected areas have also reported infections in the past week, WHO reported.

The spread of the two-month-old outbreak, which Guinean authorities earlier said had been contained, risks further complicating the fight against the virus in a region already struggling with weak healthcare systems and porous borders.

Seven confirmed cases and nine suspect cases of Ebola are being dealt with in Sierra Leone.

"For Ebola in Sierra Leone for the last few days we have a total reported of seven confirmed cases and nine suspect cases. All of them are reported in the Koindu district, which is in the Kailahun prefecture, which is bordering Guinea, notably bordering Gueckedou, the first site of Ebola in Guinea,'' said Dr Pierre Formenty from the WHO's Department for the Control Of Epidemic Diseases.

Liberia meanwhile has seen 12 reported cases of Ebola - six of them laboratory confirmed - including nine deaths, but no new cases have emerged since April 9, Reuters reported. However, Fromenty pointed to the fluid borders between Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and said: "We're on high alert in Liberia."

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The Red Cross responds to the Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea.

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