Ebola – Sierra Leone boy’s visit to Stockport school cancelled after ‘misguided hysteria’

Culled from BBC News Manchester, UK

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 October 2014

Kofi Mason SesayA headteacher has blamed “misguided hysteria” about Ebola for the cancellation of a school visit by a nine-year-old boy from Sierra Leone.

Kofi Mason-Sesay (Photo) had been due to attend classes this month at St Simon’s Catholic Primary School in Stockport. Kofi Mason-Sesay has joint nationality from the UK and Sierra Leone.

The boy, who has studied there during previous visits to England with his mother, does not have the disease and the head teacher said she had obtained public health reassurances.

But some parents expressed their fears. In a letter to parents, St Simon’s head teacher Elizabeth Inman wrote:

“It is with great sadness that we decided to cancel the visit; the misguided hysteria emerging is extremely disappointing, distracting us from our core purpose of educating your children and [it] is not an environment that I would wish a visitor to experience.”

‘No health risk’

In a later statement she added: “It is unfortunate that some misplaced anxiety and misinformation about Ebola, amongst a small group of parents, has been circulated amongst the wider parent body.

“The school has sought, and received, assurances from the relevant health agencies that the visit would pose no risk to health.

“Despite these assurances, this has not alleviated the concerns of the group,

People can catch Ebola when they come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. The virus has no known cure but some affected people have recovered.

The current outbreak, which started in western Africa, has a mortality rate of about 70%.

Kofi and mum miriamThe boy’s mother Miriam Mason-Sesay, who works for the UK charity EducAid in Sierra Leone, told BBC Radio 5 live she had not been near any Ebola patients. (Photo: Mother and son).

“If I am well enough to be up and about, then I am not sick enough to contaminate you even if I’ve got it coming, which I haven’t,” she said.

Kofi Mason-Sesay often attends the Stockport school when he visits England with his mum Miriam

The headteacher has proposed that parents donate to EducAid in recognition of Ms Mason-Sesay’s work.

Public Health England said on Tuesday there were no plans to introduce Ebola screening for people visiting the UK.

Dr Brian McCloskey, director of global health, said: “If an Ebola case is repatriated to, or detected in, the UK they would receive appropriate treatment in an isolation unit, with all appropriate protocols promptly activated.”

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