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How true is the Ebola recurrence?

How true is the Ebola recurrence?

Following announcement by the World Health Organization and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) of the first suspected Ebola death in Tonkolili District over two weeks ago, Sierra Leoneans of various walks of life have expressed diverse views on the announced Ebola recurrence barely in less than two months after the country had been declared Ebola free.

According to the Director of Disease Prevention and Control in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Foday Dafae, “Investigations from the field have revealed that 121 contacts have been identified to have been exposed to the index case. Forty-seven of those 121 contacts have been classified as high risk contacts and are being monitored at voluntary quarantine facilities.” The Director also stated that the second Ebola patient, 38-year-old Memuna Kalokoh, who as an active caretaker of the index case during the illness and also helped prepare the body for burial on 12th January, 2016, is listed among the high risk contacts.

Dr. Dafae disclosed that a team from the Health and Sanitation Ministry left Freetown to Kambia District to assist the team on the ground with the investigations and efforts to locate the missing contacts. He therefore urged the general public to CONTINUE TO THINK EBOLA, call 117, report suspicious illnesses and all deaths, stop washing dead bodies and to adhere to safe-hand hygiene practices and to seek early treatment.

It was also reported that last week Wednesday, Vice President Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh released 34 quarantined people at Magburaka, the district headquarters of Tonkolili, after they had spent twenty-one days in isolation. According to report, it was disclosed at the Vice President’s meeting with the people that the second suspected case of Ebola who was diagnosed as positive proved to be a farce.

The medical team that accompanied the Vice President to Magburaka was quoted as stating that the blood samples earlier taken in the district which found to be positive were brought to Freetown and tested (both at Lakka and the Chinese centre) and all of the results found the patient to be negative.

The Vice President was reported to have admonished the health workers in Tonkolili District to exercise caution in the discharge of their duties and not to be too hasty in arriving at conclusion.

Prior to the aforesaid development in Tonkolili District, the Paramount Chief Representative for Tonkolili District in Parliament had challenged that there was no Ebola in the district and that the index case did not die of the Ebola epidemic. The Honourable Paramount Chief added that the so-called second Ebola patient was tested negative and was responding to treatment according to the doctor treating her at the 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce, Freetown.

The former Leader and Chairman of United Democratic Movement (UDM) Party, Mohamed Bangura, who has defected to the governing All People’s Congress (APC) Party, went step further to blame the announced recurrence of the deadly virus as an international conspiracy aimed at benefiting expatriates involved in the Ebola response.

By and large, the arguments and counter-arguments over the recently announced recurrence of the EVD have made it very difficult for many Sierra Leoneans to accept the announcement hook, line and sinker especially when many of the critical politicians challenging it belong to the governing political party.

Besides, the fact that none of those that had contact with the index case have not proved positive for the virus when tested and are still alive makes it difficult for many people to believe the announcement of World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) that there is recurrence of Ebola outbreak in the country.

It is against this backdrop that the Office of the President should come out with a public statement stating its stance on the controversial announcement especially when most Sierra Leoneans are treating it with a pinch of salt.

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