Sierra Leone Declares Emergency as Ebola Cases Continue to Rise
President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared a public health emergency as cases of ebola continue to rise in Sierra Leone. As part of new measures aimed at controlling the spread of the disease, travellers at the country’s airports will have to wash their hands with disinfectant and have their temperatures checked.
In neighbouring Liberia, schools have been closed and some communities placed in quarantine. The United Nations reports that 729 people have died in this outbreak; 233 of the deaths were in Sierra Leone, including Dr Uma Khan, the country’s sole virologist, who was at the forefront of treating ebola patients. Togo-based airline ASKY, which serves 20 destinations within Africa, has halted all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone after a passenger died from the virus.
A man was tested for ebola in Britain this week but the result was negative. The Department of Health said he was checked in Birmingham after he reportedly travelled from Benin to Nigeria via Paris to the Midlands.
While no cases of ebola have ever been reported in the UK, the government’s chief scientific advisor Sir Mark Walport said it is still important to be prepared. “The government is keeping a close eye on the outbreak,” he said. “The risk to a traveller going to west Africa of contracting ebola is very low, but the chief medical officer has alerted medical practitioners about the situation in west Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area.”