Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sierra Leone diamond zone hit by largely hidden #Ebola outbreak

Sierra Leone diamond zone hit by largely hidden Ebola outbreak

Source: Reuters - Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:51 GMT

Diamond-rich Kono district reports spike in Ebola cases
* Grim scene in hospital as scores of bodies found
FREETOWN, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Health officials in Sierra Leone fear a major Ebola outbreak may have gone largely unreported until now in a remote district where the World Health Organization (WHO) said scores of bodies piled up in a hospital.
The WHO said on Wednesday that it had sent a response team to the diamond-rich Kono district following a worrying spike in reported Ebola cases in the district, which lies along the country's eastern border with Guinea.
"They uncovered a grim scene," the U.N. health agency said in a statement. "In 11 days, two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up."
Twenty-five people had died in a hastily cordoned off section of the local hospital in the five days before the team arrived. They found that villages scattered across eight of the area's 15 chiefdoms had been hit by Ebola.
Officially the district of over 350,000 inhabitants had reported 119 cases up to Dec. 9.
"We are only seeing the ears of the hippo," said Dr. Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone's Director of Disease Prevention and Control, expressing concern that the official figures underrepresented the size of the outbreak in Kono.
The worst Ebola epidemic on record has killed 6,388 people out of 17,942 cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone according to WHO data.
The toll continues to grow, fuelled principally by new infections in Sierra Leone, but health officials worry that the true scale of the epidemic may be even larger.
The team's findings in Kono did not appear to be reflected in the WHO's most recent data on the epidemic published on Wednesday, which showed 24 cases reported in the district in the week leading up to Dec. 7.
Sierra Leone recently overtook neighbouring Liberia for the highest number of Ebola cases, recording 7,897 since the epidemic was first identified earlier this year.
But it has registered just 1,768 deaths, well below Liberia's 3,177 dead, raising concerns that some fatalities may not be reflected in the figures.
"It is difficult to put an exact figure on the deaths," Sierra Leone's health minister Abu Bakarr Fofanah told Reuters in an interview in Geneva, explaining that his country was only counting deaths from laboratory confirmed Ebola cases.
"They are adding suspected cases, so that is causing the discrepancies in the results. We are going by the textbook," he said. (Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tenth Sierra Leone doctor dies of #Ebola


A tenth doctor has died after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone, the government said on Sunday, increasing alarm over the safety of medics battling the deadly epidemic.
Aiah Solomon Konoyima's death late on Saturday at an Ebola treatment unit in Hastings, near the capital Freetown, came just a day after two of his colleagues were killed by the virus.
"He had been in the centre for over a week and few days ago he was moved to the recovery ward as he had great signs of recovery," chief medical officer Brima Kargbo told AFP.
A nurse wearing personal protective equipment checks on a patient at the Kenema Ebola treatment center on November 15, 2014"The continuing death of our doctors and the mode of transmission of the virus are worrisome, and we will intensify all skills to arrest the situation."
Even before the Ebola epidemic spread from Guinea in May, Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest countries, was still struggling to rebuild its health services after a decade-long civil war in the 1990s.
In 2010 the nation was estimated to have around one doctor for every 50,000 people -- or roughly 120 doctors for the entire country.
Geraldine George, president of the country's Junior Doctors Association, voiced "grave concerns" last week over the deaths of doctors, urging the government to pile more resources into fighting Ebola.
The doctors are among more than 300 healthcare workers to have died treating patients infected in the deadly outbreak, which appears to be stabilising in Guinea and Liberia, but is still spreading at an alarming rate in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone government announced on Saturday that two doctors had died the previous day, one in the Hastings clinic and another at the British-run Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre a short drive from Freetown...