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48 missing contacts cajoled to return home

  As 73 discharged from quarantined homes…

February 8, 2016 By Alusine Sesay

The Inter-Agency Rapid Response Team, comprising WHO, CDC, Concern Worldwide, GOAL, UN Women, among others, has – through the United Nations Resident Coordinating Office – encouraged 48 missing contacts to return home with assurance that they would not be penalised nor placed under quarantine.

“We are concerned for the well-being of these missing contacts and we want to be sure that they have not developed any symptoms of Ebola in the past 21 days,” said Dr. Gabriel Rugalema, Interim Resident Coordinator. “We call upon them to make contact with members of their families or their nearest healthcare centres in case they become ill, to receive the support and care they deserve. We further call on them to return to their homes and they will not be penalized, or placed under quarantine.”

Dr. Rugalema, who is Acting UN Resident Coordinator, told pressmen that 73 people who were quarantined last month after a sample from a dead lady tested positive have been discharged in Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko districts, following 21 days of quarantine.

He said among the 48 missing contacts, 18 were at high risk of contracting Ebola, adding that rapid identification of those who might have been exposed was critical to reducing potential infection.

“The rapid identification, location, and isolation of those who might have been exposed is critical in reducing risk of potential infection of themselves, their families, and their communities,” he said.

He disclosed that the people who are being monitored, only one contact, a 38-year-old aunt of the first case, developed symptoms and tested positive for EVD on 20 January, adding that the lady is currently at 34 Military Hospital and responding well to treatment.

He said the Inter-Agency Rapid Response Team was convened to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in the response.

The UN diplomat continued that incident management teams, including technical experts, equipment and supplies, were immediately deployed to rapidly shut down the chain of transmission.

“A total of 212 people were vaccinated to offer further protection to those who might have been exposed to the index case,” he said.

He assured the commitment of the international community to supporting the government in the fight against not only Ebola but also helping in achieving a resilience health system in the country.

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom, said it was usual that Ebola could re-emerge in any country that had experienced the outbreak, but that structures must have been in place to contain the disease within the shortest possible time.

 He noted that the Ebola virus was still in the country and insisted on the need for the government and all those in the fight to be proactive and prevent more infections.

He said the recent Ebola case originated from Sierra Leone and not other country, adding that they were still working assiduously to ascertain the source of infection.

He highlighted some of the steps taken in the fight against recent cases of the virus, as well as future measures to put the government and the international community on guard.

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