West Africa Ebola virus on high alert, British personnel evacuated
British mining staff in Sierra Leone have been evacuated after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.
The Ebola virus is believed to be highly contagious and kills up to 90 per cent of those it infects. Although no cure or vaccine for it has been developed so far, it is preventable.
There have been five confirmed deaths and 50 suspected cases in the west African country. Furthermore, there have been over 100 deaths in neighbouring Guinea, where the virus was reported early in March.
Iron Ore company London Mining said: “Production at its mine is not affected but it has taken precautionary measures and restricted non-essential travel from visitors and personnel.”
A spokesman for the company confirmed that eight non-essential staff had left Sierra Leone and those on holiday were advised not to return for the meantime.
London Mining said in a statement on Monday: “The company has not had any incidents of the disease among its workforce and is not aware of any cases surrounding the Marampa mine and continues to monitor the situation carefully.”
The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals. It can then spread from one person to another: by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluid, or body of the infected person. The symptoms include fever, dehydration, vomiting, muscle aches and diarrhoea.
Charity organisations have realised the importance of disseminating information about the disease. As part of an ACT Alliance-funded rapid response, Christian Aid partner and the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone are working hard to raise awareness about the virus through radio, flyers and town criers on the streets.
Soumah Mouctar, one of the 25 Red Cross volunteers helping to spread the word in Africa, explained: “It is difficult to make people understand, as many of them can neither write nor read. Therefore, we need to talk to them in simple phrases and in their local languages.”