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As Kailahun records decrease in Ebola cases…

Port Loko & Kenema top the list

By Jariatu Bangura

Minister of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) yesterday informed lawmakers that Port Loko and Kenema districts now top the list of infected and confirmed cases of Ebola, while Kailahun district, which recorded the first Ebola case in the country, has had a considerable decrease of confirmed cases.

Miatta Ballay Kargbo told MPs that there are many confirmed cases in Kenema and that during day-to-day house checks, between 10 and 15 cases are being confirmed per day. She said the spread of the disease in Kailahun has lessened as of 13 August as the district currently records 0.1% new cases per day.

Kenema and Kailahun districts are the epicenters of the virus, with both currently being quarantined as part of public emergency measures announced by President Ernest Bai Koroma on 23 July to stem the spread of the disease.

She said there were lots of interference in the work of health workers in Port Loko district, which she said was causing considerable mayhem in that part of the country, and called on the police and military to help maintain law and order wherever a suspected Ebola patient is found and about to be taken to a treatment centre.

She added that there is stigmatisation of Surveillance Officers by family members and friends, and called on individuals to volunteer to serve as Surveillance Officers.

She said government is constructing a temporal laboratory in Kailahun until a permanent one is built at Lakka in the Western Rural Area.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation stated that the ministry was faced with a lot challenges, and that the involvement of Members of Parliament is critical in the fight against the virus because they are ‘the people’s representatives’, adding that some lawmakers and community leaders in areas she didn’t name had refused the ministry permission to construct treatment centres in their localities.

She disclosed that a check point will soon be mounted between Bombali and Port Loko districts to test commuters plying that route.

She urged lawmakers to regularly visit their constituencies to sensitise their constituents in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly disease.

Also speaking, Professor Monty Jones said the World Health Organization (WHO) had on 30th December, 2013 sounded an alert for a disease outbreak in West Africa.

He claimed that the number of surveillance team in Sierra Leone is higher than in Guinea, where the outbreak originated, and that although several hundreds of persons have been confirmed positive with Ebola, the denial syndrome was making the fight to contain the disease difficult.

He urged the public to allow the ministry to do their job, and implored stakeholders to put aside their differences to help combat the deadly disease in the country.

Minority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, said quarantining Kenema district is having a positive effect, and opined that within 21 days the district would be recording fewer new infections.

She said that houses that have been quarantined in the district lack sufficient food, while heath workers are grappling with inadequate supply of basic equipment to treat infected persons.

She added that some medical staff in the district are being stigmatised while others have been given quit notices by their landlords who are fearful that they might contract the disease because they provide care to Ebola victims.

She also disclosed that members of the burial team have been chased out of their family houses, and called on the ministry to pay medical personnel at the vanguard of the Ebola fight on a weekly basis.

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