ACCRA May 27 Relatives of an Ebola patient in
Sierra Leone took her home from a community health centre
despite protests from medical staff, risking spreading the
deadly and highly infectious disease, a senior health official
said on Tuesday.
The family said they did not trust the medical system and
feared she would die if a transfer to the general hospital in
the town of Kenema went ahead, Amara Jambai, the health
ministry's director of disease prevention and control, said.
Lawmakers and community leaders would try to talk to family
members and persuade them to return her to hospital, he said.
There has been no news of the woman, whose identity has been
kept secret, since she was taken from Koindu to her village
nearby, Jambai said by telephone from the capital Freetown.
Koindu shares a border with what the World Health
Organization (WHO) says is the Ebola virus disease epicentre of
Guéckédou in Guinea.
Asked about the risk posed by her removal from hospital,
Jambai said: "She can infect others, her family members and also
those in the community. There is no news of her condition
because she has been taken away so we need to search and find
her and make sure that it (Ebola) doesn't spread."
Five people have died in Sierra Leone's first confirmed
outbreak of Ebola virus, WHO said on Monday, signalling a new
spreading of the disease which regional officials had said was
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90
percent, is believed to have killed some 185 people in
neighbouring Guinea and Liberia since March in the first deadly
appearance of the disease in West Africa.
The West African outbreak spread from a sparsely inhabited
corner of Guinea to the capital, Conakry, and into Liberia,
causing panic across a region struggling with weak healthcare
systems and porous borders.
A total of 258 clinical cases have been recorded in Guinea
since the outbreak was first identified as Ebola, including 174
deaths - 95 confirmed, 57 probable and 57 suspected - WHO says.
(Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Additional reporting by
Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Louise Ireland)