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Sierra Leone Quarantines 50 Following Latest Ebola Death

FILE - People walking past a billboard reading "Stop Ebola" in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Nov. 7, 2014.

Sierra Leone Tuesday quarantined 50 people in the northern district of Kambia, where a 76 year-old woman died over the weekend from Ebola. The country had just celebrated the release from the hospital of its last known Ebola patient.

Abdulai Bayraytay, national publicity and outreach coordinator in the office of Sierra Leone’s government spokesman, told VOA the good news so far is that no one else has shown symptoms of the virus.

But Bayraytay said the woman’s death re-emphasizes the government’s warning for Sierra Leoneans to be vigilant, not intransigent. He described the current Ebola news as unfortunate.

“For us we are very much concerned, but the good thing though we have a quick intervention project whereby we were able to converge to the scene immediately and all those that are of immediate threat in terms of exposure were put on quarantine, and also the vaccine that was just approved for tryout in Guinea has now being administered just so that we don’t take any chances at all,” he said.

The woman who died was supposedly sick for 5 to 10 days without the authorities knowing of her situation. Still, Bayraytay said there is a remote possibility Sierra Leone may see new cases of Ebola

“From our understanding and investigation, this woman contracted the virus from a male survivor who didn’t meet the 90-day cycle and got infected and they were hiding it,” Bayraytay said.

He said the only sure way Sierra Leone would be able to defeat Ebola in the various communities is when people continue to utilize the 117 toll free telephone numbers. Bayraytay said by calling that number a person can get early diagnosis and possible support and treatment.

The latest Ebola death came as Sierra Leonean children returned to school Monday, bringing back memories of the many months that students were out of school last year because of the Ebola outbreak.

But Bayraytay said Sierra Leoneans will not be starting all over again. Instead, he said, the way to avert a repeat of last year’s outbreak is for Sierra Leoneans to continue to adhere to the medical measures and regulations that could lead to the eventual eradication of Ebola.