MS Risk Blog

Over 100 People Quarantined in Sierra Leone in Wake of Ebola Death as Second Ebola Case Confirmed

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More than 100 people have been quarantined in Sierra Leone after coming in contact with a woman who died of Ebola last week. Less than a week after the first confirmed case of Ebola in Sierra Leone, health authorities have confirmed a second case.

Last week, the WHO declared that “all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa” after Liberia joined Sierra Leone and Guinea in going six weeks with no reported new cases of Ebola. Shortly after the announcement on Thursday, tests revealed that Mariatu Jalloh, a 22-year-old student, died of Ebola on 12 January. Her death has resulted in concern as authorities failed to follow basic protocols. According to a health report, Jalloh lived in a house with 22 people while she was unwell. Five people were involved in washing her corpse, a practice that is considered one of the main modes of Ebola transmission. In a joint statement, the Ministry of Health and Office of National Security disclosed that 109 people have so far been quarantined, 28 of whom are high-risk cases. While the source of the transmission remains unclear, in late December, the woman travelled near to the border with Guinea, one of the country’s last Ebola hot spots before it was declared Ebola free in December. The latest outbreak has caused anger, with reports emerging that in an apparent frustration at the latest case, the homes of some high-risk patients were attacked this weekend in Magburaka, the city about 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Freetown where Jalloh died. According to a local leader, in one case, a hut was burned down and that a barricade around two quarantined homes was dismantled. The latest unrest comes after demonstrators last week accused the health department of negligence at a local hospital that saw Jalloh as an outpatient before she died.

On Wednesday, health officials in Sierra Leone confirmed a new case of Ebola, its second in less then a week. The latest outbreak marks a further setback in efforts to end the two-year West African epidemic, which has killed more than 11,300 people. According to health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahyah Tunis, the new patient is a 38-year-old woman who is a relative who had helped care for the earlier victim, Mariatu Jalloh. Jalloh died from the disease on 12 January and tested positive for Ebola posthumously.

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