A letter from Sierra Leone

Editor’s Note:

This letter is from Laura Stovel’s friend Manty Dabo who was confined to an ebola quarantine compound for three weeks earlier this autumn. Manty has since been released and wrote this latest letter describing conditions in Sierra Leone. Please click here to read another of Manty’s letters.

Dear Friends,

I have returned to Kabala (Koinadugu district) last Sunday to resume duties. Travelling now in Sierra Leone is difficult especially to and fro quarantined and isolated districts. I had to secure a travel pass from the office of the National Security, regional office in Makeni. There are about 10 checkpoints from Makeni to Kabala. Every chiefdom has a checkpoint with one thermometer for taking temperature of the travelling public.

My brother and his children are doing fine, though they are still gripped by fear as the wife was taken late to the hospital for treatment. However, they are in good spirit at the moment. We speak on the phone every day. They have spent 16 days in quarantine, hoping to finish on the 5th November 2014.

Thank you so much for the deep interest you are showing towards combating this dreadful scourge hitting our West Africa nations especially the Mano River basin comprising Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Though frantic efforts are being made by the government and its development partners, the disease still continues to spread in the northern districts of Port Loko and Bombali and most recently Koinadugu district (in a village called Fankoya about 105 miles from Kabala). The first Ebola case in the district was reported from the Nieni Chiefdom, on the 17th October, 2014. It has quickly spread like wide fire in the harmattan and as of now, six villages namely Funuba Kura, Funuba Koro, Sounbaria, Leroh and Fankoya (where it first hit) have been severely affected including the chiefdom headquarter town of Kumala where the Paramount Chief resides (Travis must know some if not all the affected villages). As a result, the affected communities have now been quarantined for a period of 21 days. The affected chiefdom is my ancestral home so I am deeply concerned. The locality though is u-shaped so my village is on the opposite side of the chiefdom. I am concerned because our people believe that the continuous death rate is as a result of witchcraft; and that a witch aeroplane had crash on air causing the death. As of now 15 confirmed cases have been reported with more than 100 people from 5 villages declaring they had contact with the infected or corpses. There had been incidence of confrontation of health personnel with local communities because according to them the team is transmitting the Ebola virus to their communities. The Police had to use minimum force to disperse the crowd yesterday en route to a burial site on the outskirt of Kabala town. This was reported on Radio Bintumani this morning on the local news.

31 new cases were reported nationwide for October 30, 15 cases in Port Loko, 7 Bombali, 3 Western Area Rural and 3 in Bo, 2 in Kambia, and 1 Western Area Urban. Cumulative death is 1059, total cumulative confirmed cases are 3793, probable cases are 79, probable cases 79, and total probable deaths are 208. The WHO says that West Africa has now reached 10,000 confirmed Ebola cases in all hit countries.

The government and its partners have fast racked the construction of laboratories and treatment centres in epi-centres. One of such is the Kerry town laboratory near Waterloo has just been constructed by the British and it is up and running now, doing 300 Ebola sample tests in a day. Furthermore, the Ebola treatment centre in Hastings is purely run by Sierra Leone Army medics trained by the British and WHO; more lives are now being as more than 164 survivors have been discharged from the treatment centre. People in the Western Area are now beginning to restore confidence in the response as a result of these latest developments. MSF has been great, had it not been for their intervention and several appeals, the situation would have been worst off.

A press release has been issued yesterday from the office of the President that there is another lock-down for a week (seven days) effective 17-23 November, 2014. Consequently, everyone is expected to stay indoors for the said period. No work or business or vehicular movement nationwide except medical personnel and other Ebola designated staff or the security forces.

Thanks Zoe for the information on the new vaccine in Canada. We are fervently praying that vaccines are developed to contain the spread otherwise the disease risks to be a global threat. The other good news is that the Tulane University in the USA has also developed a 15 minute one-drop-blood test for Ebola (Malaria test) but is awaiting approval from the US government, (reported by Awoko Press daily update, October 30, 2014).

I have gone for the Masters program interview last Thursday, it was success but the university needs my transcript, hence I must endeavour to get it and send it by next week. I have to secure a travelling pass to get to Makeni from where I have already made arrangement for bringing the testimonial from where I shall collect it for the attention of the university.

Special thanks to you Laura, your family and friends for sharing our country’s grief with your community at this time of despondency. I dearly appreciate all what you are doing, championing the course of humanity.

I pray that this dreadful scourge is speedily contained. Will constantly keep you updated on the Ebola crisis.

God bless you all!

Warm regards,
Manty Dabo