Ebola not yet overcome

In West Africa the number of new infections with Ebola are declining. In Sierra Leone, the country that has suffered the highest number of new infections in the last months, there have been no new infections for two weeks since the outbreak of  the epidemic. Principally this is very good news.

„But even if the thought that the epidemic has been overcome is very appealing, it is of great importance that the intensity of precautionary measures is not reduced at this stage.“ explains Cap-Anamur male nurse Dennis Wellmann. „The incubation period is 21 days and therefore the outbreak can only be regarded as overcome when there haven’t been any new infections for 42 days. We start counting those 42 days only after the last Ebola patient in a treatment centre has been tested negatively and  been discharged. This could be at the beginning of the next week, because the last positively tested patient in the country was an eight-month-old girl that has been admitted to our Ebola ward two weeks previously. This shows how important our screening-ward still is, in order to keep the virus out of the children’s hospital – even in individual cases!“

This is why our team of nurses and social workers in Freetown is still performing all security measures in order to prevent a resurgence of the infection: „In our Ebola triage and isolation ward more patients than ever are admitted“, reports nurse Simone Ross. „This is due to the fact that also the cases of malaria increase during the rainy period, the symptoms of which are similar to those of Ebola.“ To make sure that no Ebola infection is missed, every potentially infected person has to be questioned, examined and observed with the greatest care. We will prolong our stay at the Ebola ward of the children’s hospital as long as necessary. Also, because more and more Ebola wards in the country have been closed.

Our shelter for Ebola orphans and children who were in contact with Ebola infected persons is the only facility of this kind in Freetown and its vicinity. Here, we care for symptom-free children for the three-week incubation time. Thanks to the support of 14 Ebola survivors, who are immune to the virus after their recovery, the boys and girls receive age-appropriate care in which we are able to neglect frightening protective clothing.

The third pillar of our work in Freetown encompasses a preventative hygienic programme in the poor quarter of the city: our staff organise the cleaning and desinfection of the public toilets in the slum area. We provide hygiene products and trained Ebola survivors from the local community take on the job of cleaning after every visit to the toilet and supervise hand desinfection. There is a great danger of a new outbreak, due to the fact that the hygienic conditions in the slums constitute a high potential risk for the quick circulation of germs.

„Even if there hasn’t been a positive case in the last days, we are still on the alert“, says Dennis Wellmann. „Ebola is like a volcano. It can be silent for a long time, but when it erupts, it’s going to get intense. This is why we’re concentrating our efforts and our money on hygiene interventions.“

So far, 8,697 people have been infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone; 3,586 of which died. Please support our protective measures in Freetown. Every donation helps!