Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 February 2021:
Following confirmation yesterday by the Guinean Health Ministry that four people had died of Ebola at a hospital in the Guinean – Sierra Leone border town of Guerkedou, near the town of Yenga in eastern Sierra Leone, the government of Sierra Leone says it is taking no chances.
Today, President Julius Maada Bio ordered Ministry of Health officials “to inform the general public that even though there are no reported cases of EVD in Sierra Leone, the government will take prudent action to prevent any introduction of the virus into the country and institute measures to protect the lives of Sierra Leoneans.”
The government of Sierra Leone also said today in a statement that:
“The government of Sierra Leone has activated its Health Emergency Response System to level II (Enhanced Surveillance, Active Case Finding and robust Community Engagement).
“The Ministry of Health and Sanitation wishes to assure the general public that we will build on our expertise and experience to mount a solid response that not only prevents the reintroduction of Ebola into the country, but should the virus be introduced, have a strong system that protects the lives of all Sierra Leoneans and interrupts the transmission of the virus.
“With the border with the Republic of Guinea currently closed, Health Authorities and local stakeholders in the districts bordering Guinea and Sierra Leone have been supported to heighten Ebola surveillance, and improve community awareness, including appropriate preparedness measures.
“National Rapid Response Teams are being dispatched to provide additional support to the District Health Management Teams. We intend to work very closely with our Guinean counterparts to quickly contain the situation.
“EVD is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is suspected to be transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. It can be transmitted through human contact with body fluids of a person infected with the virus.
“Major symptoms of the disease can include some of the following: fever, sometimes unexplained bleeding tendencies from nose, gums, vagina, skin or eyes, as well as vomiting and diarrhea.
“The Ministry of Health and Sanitation wishes to encourage the general public to be vigilant and report all suspected cases and deaths through the 117 toll-free hotline or to their local authorities. The Government of Sierra Leone intends to collaborate very closely with all our local, regional, and international partners especially partners of the Mano River Union.”
The Guinean government has also stepped up its intervention to prevent a national Ebola epidemic in the country. This is what the Guinean authorities said today about the status of the virus in the country and measures being taken by the Guinean government:
“The health officials of the Ministry of Health were informed by the Prefectural Directorate of Health in N’Zérékoré of the detection of suspected cases of Ebola with symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding in people who participated in the burial of ‘a nurse from the Goueké health center. She died on January 28, 2021 and her burial took place on February 01 in Goueké.
“The first investigation carried out counted 7 cases, all above 25 years old (4 men and 3 women) including 3 cases of death (2 women and 1 man). All of the cases participated in the nurse’s funeral. The first three samples sent to the laboratories of Gueckedou and Conakry were POSITIVE for Ebola.
“Faced with this situation and in application of the international health regulations (IHR), the Guinean government declared an epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the prefecture of N’Zérékoré, sub-prefecture of Gouecké.
“A crisis meeting held today, February 14, 2021 under the chairmanship of the Minister of Health, in the presence of technical and financial partners, international and national, at the ANSS recommended the following measures:
- Isolation of all suspected cases at the CTEPI of N’Zérékoré and Conakry;
- Case investigation to clarify data, identify other suspected cases and identify all contacts to be isolated;
- Sending of an emergency investigation mission from the central level in support of local teams in Gouecké;
- Activation of the coordination and technical commissions of the response to Ebola;
- Activation of intersectoral coordination through the One Health platform;
- Supply of sensitization, prevention, diagnostic and care inputs;
- Opening of a treatment center for cases detected in Gouecké;
- Acceleration of the procurement of Ebola vaccines from WHO;
- Implementation of standard RSI procedures.
“The government thanks the technical and financial partners who quickly came forward to express their commitment to the response against this new outbreak of Ebola. The government reassures the population that all measures are being taken to stem this epidemic as quickly as possible. It invites the population of the affected areas to comply with hygiene and preventive measures and to report to the health authorities any presence of suggestive signs (fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding).”
There are fears this new outbreak in Guinea may lead to a resurgence of the Ebola pandemic in West Africa.
Fantastic public relations move and strategic leadership defence decision by President Bio to stop EBOLA from menacing our country and people once again. I urge President Bio to immediately trigger an EBOLA surveillance commission including medical officials and the police to monitor travellers on all our boarders. N’Zérékoré is a Guinean district on the boarder with Liberia. I believe that the EBOLA might be in Liberia too. So, sending medical and police personnel at the Liberian boarder will be very wise.
The government should urgently activate the super EBOLA infrastructure and team established by the excellent APC Administration of former President Ernest Bai Koroma for immediate emergency response. Hunting wild animals for food must be temporary banned. Finally, I thank President Bio for proactively taking the first and very important steps in prevent EBOLA from entering our country. God bless former President Ernest Bai Koroma and President Bio.
The resurgence of the Ebola disease in South-Eastern Guinea against the already grim backdrop of Covid-19 is undoubtedly a double whammy for the countries of the Mano River Union. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone through their political leaders, health ministries and related agencies, should put aside whatever differences they may have (the dispute over Yenga pales into insignificance beside the unfolding double viral catastrophe) and rise up as a single body to hold the progress of both diseases in check.
Managing the physical borders they share as well as liaising with appropriate international agencies (intergovernmental and non-govermental) should where possible, be done in concert. This is because a viral threat to one country is inevitably a threat to the other two. Claims of the three countries having shared histories,cultures and ethnicities seem to take for granted undying emotional bonds between their peoples.
The combined lethality of Ebola and Covid-19 is a sure test of such assumptions. As it is often said, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let all three countries stand up and shine collectively as they wage war on deadly infections that are no respecters of national territorial boundaries.
Some months ago I advised the vaccination against Ebola. Today it is reported that neighbouring Guinea had 7 cases with 4 deaths already. I hope, as a matter of great urgency, that doctors, nurses and social workers are given the vaccine immediately; and other preparations put in place to prevent this deadly disease.
These incompetent people don’t listen to prudent advice, and you are here talking about URGENCY? Good luck with that! Let me know when these snail-slow politicians transform themselves into Cheetahs that out-run the winds. (lol)