Sierra Leone Grapples With Spike in Ebola Numbers, Fears Underreporting

EbolaHospitalThe outbreak of the Ebola virus continues to devastate Sierra Leone, where the number of cases are spiking and humanitarian organizations reported discovering piles of dead bodies in a remote hospital earlier this month.

“Guinea has stabilized, Liberia seems to have stabilized, but we are still spiking up,” Vandi Chidi Minah, Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the United Nations, told Newsweek on Thursday.

Minah said spikes in neglected areas that “seem to be abandoned” and have not seen the influx of resources other places have is not surprising.

“If you’re solving [Ebola] in the other regions and leave [some regions uncared for] it will still come back down and reinfect and recontaminate,” Minah said, after speaking at a U.N. forum in New York City on private sector response to the Ebola outbreak.

Outlying, rural regions of Sierra Leone are still not getting adequate amounts of PPE [personal protection equipment], medical supplies necessary to isolate patients and treat the disease, and education around preventing transmission by changing the traditional burial practices, which often involves touching and washing Ebola-infected bodies.

Sierra Leone, which has about 6 million people, overtook Liberia, population 4.3 million, with the highest number of reported Ebola cases on December 8, data from the World Health Organisation shows.

This now makes Sierra Leone the worst-affected country in the region in terms of total number of cases, with more than 8,069 total cases as of December 12.

Since the outbreak began earlier this year, Liberia has suffered the most fatalities, with more than 3,200 people dead from the disease. In Guinea 1,462 people have died, and in Sierra Leone nearly 2,000 people have died. (read more)