Ebola outbreak: Virus 'spreading quickly' in Sierra Leone

Ebola in Sierra Leone is spreading nine times faster than it was two months ago, according to the African Governance Initiative

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The Independent Online

Just as the Ebola crisis in Liberia appears to be beginning to improve, the outbreak in neighbouring Sierra Leone takes a turn for the worse.

Campaign group African Governance Initiative (AGI) has said the number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone is rising "frighteningly quickly," up to 9 times faster than it was just two months ago.

Sierra Leone's rural areas are worst affected by the virus, but the group claims the situation is also escalating in capital city Freetown, where there are six times the number of cases per day as there were during the summer.

Only in the northern region of Bombali has the outbreak begun to slow.

There have been more than 1,500 Ebola fatalities in Sierra Leone, around a thousand fewer than in Liberia, the country worst hit.

Last week the World Health Organisation said it was "getting an upper hand on the virus" and slowing its spread.

 

The worsening outbreak specific to Sierra Leone comes following news that an infected UN employee has been flown to France for "high-security isolation" - the first case on French soil.

There are also reports that another doctor in northern Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola prompting concerns over how the medical operation in the region can manage after four doctors died in recent months.

To help check the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Britain has pledged £20 million to build and run three new medical laboratories, which will be used to test blood samples and virus swabs.

The first lab opened in Kerry Town last week, immediately doubling the country's testing capacity. Two further are planned in Port Loko and Makeni under the direction of UK Royal Engineers, Publish Health England, and the Department  for International Development.

When all three are finished, it is expected that Sierra Leone's testing capacity will be four times what it was and will be able to turn around blood samples in 24 hours instead of the current four days.

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International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "Tackling Ebola at the source is key to beating it and stopping the spread.

"Some of Britain's best and brightest scientists will be at the forefront of our UK-funded testing facilities ensuring that people with Ebola are isolated and then treated as soon as possible."

Additional reporting from PA

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