A doctor in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, dealing yet another blow to the country’s fight against the deadly outbreak.
Dr Martin Salia, a specialist surgeon at a major hospital in the capital of Freetown, is the sixth Sierra Leonean doctor to become infected in this outbreak. Salia is receiving treatment, said Dr. Brima Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer. He offered no other details.
Health workers are at particular risk because Ebola is transmitted through the bodily fluids of the sick – who are often vomiting or bleeding uncontrollably - and more than 500 have become infected in this outbreak. Even with the proper protection, staying safe while treating Ebola patients requires rigorous attention to detail, and the smallest mistake can lead to an infection.
Nearly 5,000 people have died of the disease in this outbreak, the majority of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with officials in Sierra Leone today and urged the international community not to let up the fight against the disease.
“More beds, more medical personnel and laboratory testing need to be done, faster, to be on top of this situation,” said Mr Blair, who founded the Africa Governance Initiative to help leaders make reforms and meet development goals.
In Mali, which has recorded just one case of Ebola, officials said that nearly 30 members of a family that was visited by a toddler who brought the disease to the country have now been released from a 21-day quarantine after they showed no symptoms of the disease.
The family is now free to move about, health department spokesman Markatie Daou said. The girl, Fanta Kone, visited their home with her grandmother in the capital, Bamako, and the toddler succumbed to the virus soon after.
People with Ebola are only contagious when they are showing symptoms. The girl’s case alarmed health authorities because she was bleeding from her nose as she travelled from Guinea to Mali, passing through the capital en route to the western city of Kayes where she died.
About 50 others who had possible contact with the girl remain under observation in Kayes. They will be released from quarantine on November 16 if they don’t show symptoms, Daou said.
Mali, which shares a porous land border with Guinea, has long been seen as vulnerable to Ebola because of the large number of people moving back and forth between the two countries.
The World Health Organisation has said that the girl had been living in Guinea, where other members of her family are believed to have also died from Ebola, including her father. The girl’s mother, grandmother and two siblings – aged 3 months and 5 years – appear not to have contracted the virus.