After a surge of Ebola infections and deaths were discovered in the remote area of Kono, an area in which health care workers believed the outbreak to be under proper control, a lockdown has been ordered by authorities.
Sierra Leone, leading up to recent months, has been one of the West African countries to be most highly affected by the deadly Ebola disease, alongside Liberia and Guinea, where a total of 18,118 people have been infected. However, a recent discovery made in the territory of Kono, wherein authorities discovered the recent death toll to be alarmingly high at the region’s only hospital, has caused the necessary response by authorities, who are allowing only essential vehicles in and out and introducing a night-time curfew.
The sole hospital of Kono was found to have buried more than 87 bodies in an 11-day span, which ignited panic and strict measures to be taken for the purpose of halting the spread of the harrowing and rapidly-moving disease. CBC News notes the shocking statistics for the previous week within Sierra Leone.
“Sierra Leone, a former British colony, reported 397 new confirmed cases in the week to Dec. 7, three times the combined total in the other two centres of the disease, Guinea and Liberia, the UN health agency said in its latest update… Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continue to account for all but 15 deaths in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.”
Kono, an eastern region of Sierra Leone, lacks access to all of the pertinent materials and services needed to ensure that those who become infected with the disease can receive the appropriate response and care. With only one ambulance to transport blood samples, and in addition the efforts to aid the sufferers being stifled due to “strikes by healthcare staff over pay and working conditions,” as Al Jazeera states, treating patients has been an almost insurmountable task.
Although the Sierra Leone government had communicated that a deal over pay and work conditions had been made, “Dr. Jeredine George, president of the Junior Doctors’ Association, told the Reuters news agency that its members would strike for a fourth day on Thursday.”
Until the discovery of a steadily climbing death toll was made in the eastern region of Kono, Sierra Leone officials believed the recent spread to be mainly affecting western areas around the nation’s capital, Freetown. The recent discovery has caused the Red Cross and the UN to begin to focus on aiding the eastern region.
The Guardian reports that the death toll since the outbreak began has reached 6,533 in the West African countries, and within Sierra Leone, a number of those have been doctors. This has lead to healthcare workers “demanding a specialised Ebola treatment clinic for Sierra Leonean doctors, 10 of whom have died since the outbreak began. The deputy health minister, Madinatu Rahman, has said plans are under way to get such a clinic set up this month.”
However, as Voice of America reports, “Alpha Kanu, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information has responded to the alarming claim in regards to death toll and new cases within Kono and claims that “Part of the explanation for [the report of new cases] is that these huge numbers are swelled up by tests carried out on people that are already dead, i.e. the swabs. Because we have a policy in Sierra Leone that any death now is treated as an Ebola death until proven otherwise.”
The lockdown within Sierra Leone has been set for a two week time frame, and efforts from the Red Cross are underway to attempt to relieve those infected and support a health care system that is in the midst of a dispute.
[Feature image courtesy of Mashable]