NERC to cut down on frontline workers


January 22, 2015 By Patrick J. Kamara

Chief Executive Officer of NERC, Rtd. Major Alfred Palo Conteh
Chief Executive Officer of NERC, Rtd. Major Alfred Palo Conteh

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) has disclosed at a press conference in Freetown that the center would soon start to reduce frontline workers due to decrease in new Ebola infection rate.

Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh, despite showering praises on frontline Ebola response workers for their sacrifice, however noted that as progress is being made in the eradication of the disease less staff will be needed across the country.

“We will naturally begin to need less staff across the country. The need for surveillance teams, contact tracers, burial teams and the like will reduce. Understandably, as the demand for services so the need for staff will reduce,” he noted, adding that discussions were underway as to how to handle the transition process.

The erstwhile Defence Minister, who is on secondment at NERC, also congratulated paramount chiefs, tribal heads, religious leaders and local authorities across the country for their contribution in helping to reduce the spike in Ebola confirmed numbers.

He maintained that progress in brining confirmed Ebola figures down in most of the chiefdoms can be attributed to the involvement of local authorities, albeit there are still challenges in some areas.

He said he and President Ernest Bai Koroma are closely monitoring the figures and would blame local authorities if there is an increase in new cases in their respective areas.

The NERC CEO revealed that over 200 samples are tested in laboratories across the country on a daily basis, of which 15% prove to be Ebola positive, thus leaving 85% negative. Patients who test negative, he said, are immediately transferred to normal health centers for treatment.

He urged all and sundry to use the 117 hotline as the growing number of survivors in communities cannot be unconnected with early treatment they had sought. He disclosed that the country has the highest survivor rate among the three worst affected countries in the sub-region – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – with over 2,100 Sierra Leonean survivors to date.

With regards security and screening at the Lungi International Airport, the CEO confirmed that there has been significant increase in the level of security at various stages of passing through the airport, which operates for 24 hours a day.

“We have increased security around the airport and have further tightened the screening methods when entering and leaving the airport. We are currently working with the Ministry of Transportation and Aviation and the airport authorities to see how we can complete the construction of the perimeter fencing around the airport,” he averred.