Ebola Virus Hits Sierra Leone
West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak, which has already killed nearly 200 people in Guinea, has crossed the border and claimed its first lives in Sierra Leone, placing health authorities across the region on high alert.
The World Health Organisation and Médecins sans Frontières have dispatched teams to the east of the country, while health authorities in the capital are meeting daily to monitor the disease, amid fears that it could spread quickly among remote rural communities with little access to healthcare.
The current outbreak began in neighbouring Guinea in March. The first confirmed cases were detected in Sierra Leone earlier this week and the country has now recorded 16 cases and five deaths.
Ebola is a highly infectious virus which proves fatal in up to 90 per cent of its victims. It can be passed on through contact with the fluids of infected people, including sweat – meaning that just touching the body of an infected person can cause transmission. Healthcare workers have been forced to wear protective body suits.
An Ebola task force has been formed at Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation in the capital Freetown, incorporating government and international volunteer healthcare workers.