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‘Koinadugu is still Ebola free’

…Task Force maintains

OCTOBER 15, 2014 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Koinadugu is still Ebola free, according to members of the District Ebola Task Force, who yesterday dispelled reports that the northern district had finally succumbed to the virus by recording its first 20 Ebola cases.

Addressing members of the press at the Harry Yansaneh Hall of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in Freetown, Coordinator of the Koinadugu District Ebola Task Force, Momoh Konte, said there was no iota of truth that people had died of Ebola in the district.

He expressed disappointment at the Torchlight newspaper which had published a story headlined, “Last District Falls to Deadly Virus, Ebola Enters Koinadugu” in its 14 October, 2014 edition, adding that the paper should have waited for an official confirmation as result of laboratory test on blood samples of the alleged Ebola victims from the district was yet to be released.

He said one individual who allegedly died of Ebola in the district migrated from Kono, while stories about residents who died of cholera after drinking from an abandoned borehole in the district were fabrications.

Mr. Konte disclosed, however, that as they await results of laboratory tests of the blood samples from people who might have come in contact with the migrant from Kono, Fankoya village and Nieni chiefdom in entirety have been quarantined.

“We are going to quarantine the Member of Parliament in that constituency, the Paramount Chief, Councillors and other stakeholders for them to know that it is their responsibility to be in the fight to protect their land of birth,” Konte said.

Also speaking, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Peter Bayuku Konteh, a descendant of the district, said the secret behind the zero infection in the district was due to the descendants, in collaboration with the youth, who have fought hard to protect their homeland.

He disclosed that when the outbreak was announced in late May, descendants of the district did not wait for government support, but used their own resources to sensitize residents about the outbreak. He said with support from the local authorities and the youth, they were able to convince residents that the virus was real.

“We set up an Ebola task force in all the towns and villages and one of the important steps we took before the setting up of the task force was that we worked with local authorities who made by-laws limiting the movement of people into the district, and also introduced a curfew order,” he said.

Dr. Sheku M. Sesay, who is also part of the Koinadugu Ebola Task Force, said they had also engaged traditional healers in the district to stop treating patients until Ebola is eradicated in the country, as part of ways to ensure the virus does not infect anyone in the district.

Meanwhile, according to the latest data on the status of the outbreak released yesterday by the Emergency Operations Centre, Koinadugu district remains the only Ebola free district in the country, almost five months into the deadliest outbreak in the world.