Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Sierra Leone emerges from Ebola nightmare

05 November 2015, 07:52

Freetown - The Ebola epidemic is expected to be declared over in Sierra Leone on Saturday, when the west African nation will have gone 42 days without any new infections.

But jubilation over ending the outbreak in the impoverished nation, where almost 4 000 deaths have been reported, has been tempered by caution, with neighbouring Guinea still battling the virus.

Ebola was found in a 25-year-old pregnant Guinean woman and two of her children in Forecariah district, near the Sierra Leone border, in mid-October.

Also Read: Baby joy for Nigerian Ebola survivor

Her baby was delivered during her treatment and also tested positive, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in the latest of its weekly updates on the crisis on Wednesday.

Guinea is now monitoring 382 possible contacts, 141 of them deemed "high risk", it said.

Palo Conteh, the head of Sierra Leone's Ebola response, told a news conference in Freetown on Wednesday there were no plans for "an elaborate celebration".

Instead, the WHO will deliver a formal declaration in the capital on Saturday of the end of the epidemic.

11 300 deaths registered

"I feel proud that I was, with the support of my staff, able to save the nation from the virus. If I had not tackled Ebola with my team, the nation would have perished," he told AFP.

"We have to be vigilant as it is not the end of Ebola but the end of the current outbreak. We have fought the disease and we have won."

Since emerging in December 2013, the worst outbreak of Ebola in history has infected a reported 28 500 people, with 11 300 deaths registered.

The real toll is widely believed to be significantly higher than the official data, however, with under-reporting of probable Ebola cases rife in the early stages.

Saturday's announcement marks the official end of a battle which was prematurely thought to have been nearing its conclusion on previous occasions.

President Ernest Bai Koroma led a festive ceremony on August 24 celebrating the discharge of Sierra Leone's last known patient but the optimism was shattered by the deaths of a 67-year-old woman and, two weeks later, a 16-year-old girl.

The 42-day countdown began again after the last case was confirmed free of Ebola after a second consecutive negative test on September 25.

'Unprecedented' recession

While the primary cost of the outbreak has been in human life, the crisis has also wiped out development gains in Sierra Leone, which was devastated by 11 years of civil war ending in 2002.

The World Bank estimates that Sierra Leone will lose at least $1.4 billion in economic growth in 2015 as a result, leading to an "unprecedented" GDP contraction of 23.5%.

The economic damage has been exacerbated by a sharp decline in global iron ore prices and the collapse of the mining sector amid an exodus of foreign investors.

Ebola spread to Sierra Leone 18 months ago, when a young pregnant woman and an older housewife were diagnosed as the country's first cases.

Both had attended the funeral of a widely-respected faith healer known as Mendinor, whose "powers" were renowned on both sides of Sierra Leone's border with Guinea.

The grandmother, whose real name was Finda Nyuma, had been treating sick patients in her home village, the diamond-mining community of Koindu, a few hours' walk from Gueckedou in Guinea, where the outbreak began.

"She was claiming to have powers to heal Ebola. Cases from Guinea were crossing into Sierra Leone for treatment," Mohamed Vandi, the top medical official in Kenema, told AFP in August last year.

Chain reaction

Fourteen women were infected by two distinct strains of the highly infectious virus during Nyuma's traditional burial rites - which involve "laying hands" on the body - according to subsequent scientific studies.

Before they died they fanned out across the Kissi tribal chiefdoms, starting a chain reaction of infections, deaths, funerals and more infections which reached Freetown in July.

At the peak of the outbreak in the second half of 2014, Sierra Leone and its neighbours were reporting hundreds of new cases a week, their health services overwhelmed and social order on the brink of collapse.

Also Read: Guinea records three new cases of Ebola, brings total to nine

The International Crisis Group (ICG) highlighted in a report last week a variety of exacerbating factors linked to poverty and weak healthcare, but also a lack of trust in the governments of the affected countries.

"In its initial phase, many west Africans thought Ebola was a ploy to generate more aid funding or reinforce the position of ruling elites," it said.

"And when Ebola proved real enough, political machinations and manipulation needlessly hindered the early response."

ICG also pointed to a failure of the international community, including the WHO, which it said "stalled for far too long on declaring an international health emergency, then proved incapable of mounting an effective response".



Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...