Freetown neighbourhood sealed off as new Ebola cases emerge

Sierra Leone has imposed a lock down in Freetown’s Aberdeen district, following a spike in Ebola cases, in what is seen as a setback for the country hardest-hit by the virus. Health workers are conducting searches as part of government efforts to contain the virus.

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (FEBRUARY 20, 205) (UNMEER) – Sierra Leone’s Ebola response efforts has seen Aberdeen district blocked off following a recent spike in Ebola cases there.

The neighbourhood located on the tip of the Freetown peninsula where dense slums lie a stone’s throw away from upscale restaurants and hotels popular with foreigners is under quarantine said to last 21 days according to the National Ebola Response Centre.

The center’s data showed six new confirmed cases of Ebola in Aberdeen on Wednesday (February 18).

The source of the outbreak is thought to be a fisherman who arrived by boat from another town.

It is estimated that there are between 1,200 and 2,000 people in Aberdeen who had potentially come into contact with individuals infected with the disease.

“We are praying to God for Ebola to be finished in Sierra Leone so that we can be helping ourselves. We are not happy. This is where we have been sleeping. No bed — no nothing. We have food but it is not enough because we are many,” said Patrick Tombi, a fisherman in Aberdeen.

“Now we stopped going out to sea because of Ebola. Now we have no movement, nothing to do. We just sit around, that’s all,” added Moussa Kabia, another resident.

Residents are now dependent on aid, and those from other villages who were caught there during the outbreak have been stranded.

Boats have been moored and fishing nets put aside. All economic activity has come to a halt for now.

“We are not doing business. Fishing is closed. Children are not going to school. We are not seeing friends. So, it’s affecting us, really,” said Bankulay Kamara, a shop owner.

The government is working with its partners to conduct contact tracing programs, with aim to contain the outbreak.

Health workers have already been deployed to carry out house-to-house searches in Aberdeen.

According to the World Health Organization, about 30 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the area.

“We are able to identify the new infections that arise in Aberdeen, identify the contacts of those infections, follow them on a regular basis so that if they become sick we are able to isolate them quickly. That’s actually how we end an Ebola outbreak, and that is what’s going on in Aberdeen now,” said Dr. David Keretesz, WHO representative, in Sierra Leone.

More than 10,000 Ebola cases have been reported in Sierra Leone since last May, making it the hardest hit country in the world’s worst outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever.

The epidemic has been concentrated in West Africa and killed nearly 9,000 people out of 22,495 known cases since December 2013.