Monday, May 26, 2014 9:12 pm
Sierra Leone has confirmed its first death from Ebola and said it was restricting travel in some areas to stop the deadly haemorrhagic fever sweeping west Africa from claiming more lives.
Minister of Health and Sanitation Miatta Kargbo urged the public to remain “vigilant” and reaffirmed an earlier ban on trips to attend funerals in Guinea, the epicentre of the west African outbreak.
The eastern regions of Kailahun, where the first case was confirmed, and Kenema have been designated as “high risk” and travel there has also been restricted, she said.
“The ministry has now officially moved from a preparedness level to a response level and specifically management activities have now been put in place,” Kargbo told a press conference.
“We are beginning to find out that the recent cases in the country are from individuals who went to funerals in Guinea.”
Chief Medical Officer Brima Kargbo said the first Ebola victim was female traditional healer who had gone to a funeral in the neighbouring country.
The deadly haemorrhagic fever, which has no cure, erupted in Guinea in January where it claimed 81 lives — according to government figures released three weeks ago — and also spread to Liberia.
Sierra Leone health ministry official Amara Jambai said 11 people with acute diarrhoea and vomiting had been admitted to the Koindu Community Health Centre in a region bordering southern Guinea.
Four people have died, one of which was confirmed to have been caused by Ebola, and five were responding to treatment.
“The cause of death of the other three is still being investigated,” he said.
– Renewed fears –
Ebola is one of a handful of similar fevers that cause vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, and in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable internal bleeding.
It can be transmitted by blood and other bodily fluids, as well as the handling of contaminated corpses or infected animals, known to be vectors of the disease.