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Operation Northern Push:

‘A bumpy road to zero’ …reckons NERC boss

June 17, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) has said that the country was now experiencing what is commonly referred to as the bumpy road to zero Ebola infection.

Rtd. Major Alfred Palo Conteh was speaking yesterday at the weekly NERC press conference at the former Special Court building on Jomo Kenyatta Road while addressing journalists on ‘Operation Northern Push’ – the latest NERC operation designed to target the last remaining pockets of the Ebola virus disease in northern Sierra Leone.

He said ‘Operation Northern Push’ emanated from directives by President Ernest Bai Koroma last week in his speech to the nation, as he restated his desire to get Sierra Leone to a resilient zero as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He added that their mission was to identify, contain and eradicate the Ebola virus in infected areas and to communicate with the wider community and neighbouring chiefdoms in a bid to contain cases which are discovered, to ensure no new spread of the virus.

The NERC boss disclosed that ‘Operation Northern Push’ would include a significant security element, albeit not a military or security operation in the traditional sense, noting that the increased presence of military and police personnel would ensure safety and security in communities during the surge activities.

“A major part of Operation Northern Push will be the implementation of much better quarantine procedures, strong efforts to find, isolate and track people who abscond and an increase in community surveillance which will be enhanced by a stricter enforcement of the safe dignified burial and by-laws,” said Mr. Conteh.

He noted the idea of the operation was to end transmission in chiefdoms in Kambia and Port Loko districts – current hotspots – with the sole goal of ensuring a resilient zero across the country, adding that low transmission rates would allow the country to redirect resources and focus intensively on each individual transmission chain.

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