British military medics arrive in Sierra Leone – Ebola dead rises

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 October 2014

British army arrives in Sierra Leone1Ninety-two British military health personnel from the 22 Field Hospital, have arrived at Lungi Airport in Freetown today.

They will join the 162 Cuban medical staff and over 50 Chinese military health workers that are already in the country, to carry out the long, meticulous and arduous task of helping to combat the now uncontrollable Ebola virus that has taken the life of almost 1,000 people in Sierra Leone and rising.

Today’s contingent of British military personnel include general nurses, medical technicians, specialist nurses, doctors, infectious disease consultants as well as drivers, chefs, administrators and logistical staff.

Forty British military engineers have been in Sierra Leone since last month, working with the Sierra Leone military to build a new Ebola treatment centre at Kerry town in Freetown.

The centre will house 92 beds – twelve of which will be dedicated to the treatment of health workers.

British army arrives in Sierra Leone2Four other treatment centres will be built across Sierra Leone, once the main contingent of 750 British soldiers arrive early December, on board a naval ship carrying three Merlin helicopters and tons of materials, beds and equipment to take on the fight to Ebola.

With the number of people that have contracted the virus standing at almost 3,000 and projected to reach 6,000 by the end of December, at the current rate of transmission there are fears the total number of treatment beds planned for Sierra Leone will be far short of the estimated minimum of 5,000 required across the country.

The British government is hoping to have 750 beds in the five newly built treatment centres before the end of the year.

Britsh army arrives in sierra leone2Before flying out this afternoon to Sierra Leone, the Commanding Officer – Lieutenant Colonel Alison McCourt said that; “This unit has been the ‘Vanguard’ medical regiment for the past 20 months, which means we are on high readiness to deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world – although this is a bit different and provides us with a challenge we are perfectly suited to this kind of task. I firmly believe we can make a significant difference and it will be professionally rewarding for those taking part.”

ebola sierra leone222Two days ago, the ministry of health and sanitation released its ‘Situation Report on Ebola’ which makes for sobering reading.

The report includes the total cumulative number of people that died of the Ebola virus, between the 23rd May and 13th October, in each of the districts, as follows:

Kailahun – 219; Kenema – 238; Kono – 18; Kambia – 9; Koinadugu – 0; Bombali – 123; Tonkolili – 34; Port Loko – 57; Pujehun – 12; Bo – 53; Moyamba – 29; Bonthe – 1; Freetown – 138.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph welcomes this transparency, and call upon the ministry to publish these figures on a monthly basis for each district – if not weekly.

Figures published yesterday 15th October 2014 by the ministry of health and sanitation, show that, there were 2,979 cumulative confirmed cases – an increase of 175 in three days.

As in our previous report, Freetown continues to bear the greatest brunt of the Ebola attack, with the total cumulative number of cases standing at 723 – an increase of 146 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 71 recorded for the previous three days.

ebola sierra leone medicsThe rate of Ebola virus contraction in Port Loko appears to have slowed down, with the number of cumulative cases now standing at 425 – an increase of 27 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 48 seen six days ago.

After showing promise of stabilisation, the total number of cumulative cases in Kailahun stands at 536 – an increase of 3 since the 9th October.

Kenema has also seen a steep rise in new cases, with the cumulative number of cases at 458 – an increase of 24 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 3 seen in the previous three days.

Kono – the diamond basket of Sierra Leone, has managed to prevent new cases in three days, with the cumulative number of cases still standing at 31 after an increase of 2 in the previous three days.

Bombali 402 – an increase of 33 in three days, which is a drop from the increase of 36 seen in the previous three days; Kambia 25 – an increase of 1 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 2 witnessed in the previous three days.

The total number of cumulative cases in Koinadugu has gone up for the first time to 2 from 0. After months of being regarded the ‘Ebola enigma’ of Sierra Leone, Koinadugu has now lost its innocence. Can the people of Koinadugu stop Ebola from spreading in their district?

Ebola treatment cenrte at hastings2The total number of cumulative cases in Tonkolili stands at 138 – an increase of 11 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 13 seen in the previous three days.

Bo recorded a cumulative total number of cases of 137 in the last three days – an increase of 7.

Bonthe continues to show its resilience, with the total cumulative number of cases at just 1 – the only confirmed Ebola case on the Island.

Moyamba has seen a slight increase of 2 cases, bringing the total number of cumulative cases to 77 in the last three days; and Pujehun is also showing encouraging signs of some control of the virus, with the total cumulative number of cases still standing at 24, after six days.

The number of new confirmed cases recorded yesterday, 15th October, continues to show a very mixed and quite encouraging picture generally, but there are still pockets of resistance in some parts of the country, as the following analysis shows:

Ebola victim removedOf the 165 samples tested on the 15th October – ten less than the previous three days recorded across the country – once again shows that more than 50% (83) proved to be Ebola positive, with over 50% of those Ebola positives found in the north of the country – compared to 75% in the previous three days, as follows: Bombali 14; Kambia 0; Koinadugu 2; Port Loko 20; and Tonkolili 9.

And the total number of confirmed new cases recorded on the 15th October, for the rest of the country were as follows; Kailahun 0, Kenema 7, Kono 0, Bo 5, Bonthe 0, Moyamba 0, Pujehun 0, and Freetown 26.

The number of confirmed cumulative deaths recorded on the 15th October throughout the country was 932 – an increase of 11 in the last three days, compared to 713 recorded on the 9th October – an increase of 219 in six days.

The ministry of health and sanitation says that the total number of suspected and probable deaths recorded on the 15th October, was 268 – an increase of 16 in three days.

But six days ago, this total was 177, suggesting that the total number of suspected and probable deaths, has gone up by 91 in six days.

Will the people of Sierra Leone – including the loved ones of those shrouded by these statistics, ever know the truth about their probable and suspected deaths, and will the stigma ever be erased?

All eyes are now on the newly arrived British military medics and the 750 that have set sail for Sierra Leone, to establish the critical mass of support that is required to contain – if not eradicate Ebola in Sierra Leone.

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