I was worried about a friend of mine, who has worked for many years as a senior nurse in Sierra Leone. I was particularly worried when I saw that there was a case of Ebola in the hospital where she works. This is her reply:
‘I left the hospital just before the blockage/quarantine was enforced under the State of Emergency. Before I left two student nurses had died, about 4 others were infected but survived, one colleague died … The young Liberian woman … who stays in the room next to mine at home died while on holidays in Monrovia. We do not know for sure that Ebola was the cause but that’s the family’s suspicion. She was a big, beefy, apparently healthy girl, it’s hard to imagine what else could have killed her.
The response has seemed chaotic …. It’s been a bit better here than in Liberia, I think. It was not the virus per se that drove me from the hospital but the abuse and threats related to being a foreigner and a nurse responsible for bringing Ebola’. Nearly did not get away – at the ‘bus station’ was surrounded by the touts who load passengers shouting that I (as a foreigner) had brought Ebola to SL and now I was running away. During the pushing and shoving, I felt a hand in my rucksack, a young lad, so the crowd turned on him instead. I beat a hasty retreat to a nearby bank (where I am known), phoned people I knew, one lad came, went to the vehicle park and quietly chartered a taxi to take me on my own to Bo. I had to pay huge money but at least I got away safely. No trouble in Bo, I boarded a bus and paid for the whole of the front seat (where two passengers are normally squashed) to avoid close physical contact.
The reports mostly from Kenema seem v accurate resonate with what people tell me by phone and pictures are genuine: http://www.newsweek.com/user/10213 Lately I have funded gloves and chlorine for the Government Hospital: now the University is raising more money outside. Where all the thousands in official aid is going no-one understands: on the ground, the basics are missing. Hard to keep focused on my academic work – tempting to waste time scanning every Ebola report on the Internet. Sent my CV around (to international medical agencies) … Don’t want to volunteer directly with the Government because they don’t have proper safety measures in place.”
What’s clear from this is not only that everything is chaotic there, but also that a great many more people are infected with and dying from Ebola than is being reported in the news.
This friend is incredibly brave. She is very much in my prayers for continuing safety.