Africa

Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone vice-president quarantined

Volunteers bury an Ebola victim in Waterloo, southeast of Freetown - 7 October 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cases of Ebola had been on the decline in Sierra Leone, but they have risen again in recent weeks

The vice-president of Sierra Leone has put himself into quarantine after one of his bodyguards died from Ebola.

Samuel Sam-Sumana said he would stay out of contact with others for 21 days as a precaution.

There was optimism the virus was on the decline in Sierra Leone at the end of last year but there has been a recent increase in confirmed cases.

Nearly 10,000 people have died in the outbreak, the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

'Taking no chances'

Mr Sam-Sumana said on Saturday that he had chosen to be quarantined to "lead by example" after the death of his bodyguard, John Koroma, last week.

He told Reuters news agency that he was "very well" and showing no signs of the illness, but said he did not want to "take chances".

His staff have also been placed under observation.

He is the country's first senior government figure to subject himself to a voluntary quarantine.

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Media captionVice-President Sam-Sumana told the BBC he was leading by example

Officials in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have pledged to achieve zero Ebola infections within the next two months.

But authorities in Sierra Leone have reinstated some restrictions in the country after a recent spate of news cases.

Of 99 cases recorded in the region in the week beginning 16 February, 63 were in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

Ebola deaths

Figures up to 13 January 2016

11,315

Deaths - probable, confirmed and suspected

(Includes one in the US and six in Mali)

  • 4,809 Liberia

  • 3,955 Sierra Leone

  • 2,536 Guinea

  • 8 Nigeria

Getty

The government in the capital, Freetown, said it was gravely concerned about the new cases.

It said many of them had been connected with maritime activities and checks on ferries and other vessels had been increased in response.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has also ordered public transport operators to reduce capacity by 25% to limit physical contact between passengers.

In all, more than 23,500 cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the world's worst outbreak began in December 2013.


Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Image copyright Reuters
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but current outbreak has mortality rate of between 54% and 62%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • No proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus's natural host

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