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‘Port Loko, Western Area will start recording zero infection soon’

- assures NERC boss

February 12, 2015 By Patrick J. Kamara

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) yesterday assured Sierra Leoneans that Port Loko district and the Western Area will soon start to record zero Ebola infection.

Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh told newsmen that the two districts have accounted for about 60% of new infection cases in the last three weeks, adding that community mobilization was key in the Ebola fight.

“Let me assure you all here that the situation in Port Loko and Western Area will soon be put under control. They will start to record zero new infection, but again we must all be reminded that it will be difficult without the participation of everyone,” he said.

Conteh attributed the rise in new infection cases in Port Loko to the death of the ‘Gbangbani’ leader – head of a male secret society – whose followers took his corpse to their shrine (‘Egbaleh’) for burial rituals, and was later tested positive for Ebola.

The NERC boss noted that the central business district of Freetown is always densely populated and it is extremely difficult to control the crowd.

He, however, assured that ‘Operation Western Area Surge’ – announced ahead of the December festivities last year and aimed at preventing public gathering and identifying sick patients – will continue until the city records zero new infection.

“The surge will still continue in the Western Area until we get to zero infection because that is our ultimate aim. The proximity between Port Loko and Western Area is very close, so we want both to meet at zero point,” said the NERC CEO. “The problem in Port Loko is mainly in Lokomasama chiefdom which is why we are working for a quick response that will be implemented soon. Let me say here that we’re just as concern as you are and we are doing everything possible to reverse the situation in these two areas that are continuing to shoot our numbers up.”

The former Minister of Defence assured that NERC will continue to give support to councilors, paramount chiefs and local community leaders in order to break the chain of transmission at all levels.

The Western Area and Port Loko district account for almost half of the more than 8,000 Ebola cases in the country. While other districts continue to record zero case, both neighbouring districts still record high figures since the New Year, much to the disappointment of the government and citizens.