Dozens of Ebola survivors have been discharged from a treatment centre near Sierra Leone’s capital and told they were virus-free.
The third group released from the Hastings Treatment centre in Freetown, which included 45 patients, were also issued with health certificates they proudly held up.
Hawanatu Turay, 14, said she was happy to be feeling healthy again. “I feel good because nothing hurts me any more and I am feeling fine, I can do anything I want to do. I am happy, I can eat fine, my stomach hurts no more, my head aches no more and also my neck, nothing hurts and I have no more pains.”
She is among only 130 patients who have been treated and released from the facility, which is run by Sierra Leone doctors and nurses and started operating on September 19.
Such releases are glimmers of hope in an outbreak that has infected some 9,000 people and killed more than 4,500 in the hardest hit countries in West Africa - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there have been more than 3,400 cases of infection in Sierra Leone, with about 1,200 deaths.
Dr Sankoh, a lieutenant from the Sierra Leone Army, said the release of the patients is a clear indication that the treatment centre is helping.
“This is a clear manifestation that we cure a good number of Ebola patients in this centre,” he said. Many patients come in unstable, and some unconscious, he said.
“We are actually doing a good job here, we discharge, we treat patients and also do follow up treatment, not only treating them, but we also make sure that they have their full dose of combinations that they need,” he said. That follow up and treatment is why, he said, they recover in large numbers and quickly at the centre.
“Some people just came in here about a week ago and they have been discharged today,” he said.
But the UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening noted that training is key for health care workers who are risking their lives.
“One of the worst aspects of what’s happened here in Sierra Leone is a breakdown of the health care system.
“We’ve seen health care workers really on the front line and also being many of the people who have lost their lives,” Ms Greening said while visiting a UK-funded Ebola treatment and training centre.
More than 400 health workers have contracted the disease, where personal protective equipment is scarce.