The West African nation of Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency due to what is being referred to as the worst ever outbreak of Ebola. The president has committed to calling in the country’s national defence forces to quarantine so-called epicentres of the deadly virus in order to prevent further infection of the population.
Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma issued a statement, declaring the state of emergency throughout the country and expressed his intent to form quarantines as quickly as they can manage.President Koromo has also announced that he will no longer be travelling to Washington DC in the United States to attend a US-Africa summit,as planned, due to the viral outbreak causing crisis in his country. The plans issued by Koromo parallel those of Liberia, who neighbour Sierra Leone, and announced a strict quarantine on Wednesday morning.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who have been working to contain the disease and treat those suffering from it in West Africa since the outbreak began earlier this year, have issued a warning against the potential spreading of the disease. The organisation stated that there is no broad strategy currently in place to contain the virus globally and that this outbreak is allegedly the worst thus far in history. They warned that the epidemic is currently out of control and will only get worse at the current rate.
According to the World Health Organisation, the Ebola outbreak has to date killed 672 people residing in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The South African Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, however, has said that South Africans need not be alarmed by these facts, as the government is doing everything within its control to prevent the spread of the virus into the country. OR Tambo International and Lanseria airports have been equipped with thermal scanners in order to detect passengers travelling with raised body temperatures. If a passenger is seen to be displaying a fever, they will then be scrutinised by medical professionals in order to determine whether or not they are carrying the disease. Special attention will be given to those with a recent travel history involving West African countries.
Ebola, formally known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a disease which is believed to be spread by animals and when transmitted to humans, can be fatal in upwards of 90% of confirmed cases. It is transmitted via bodily fluids and not airborne, such as flu. The symptoms take around 21 days to begin to show and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a rash and a fever, leading to internal bleeding and shock. The only treatment for the disease is symptomatic and supportive.