In the last days of 2014, a dramatic case of Ebola in the Western Area happened. More than 100 people were quarantined in one single village. I will summarize the timeline:
Mrs Isa Tullah, living in Devil Hole/Zimi was brought to the hospital in Maccauley Street, Freetown, as suspected Ebola case. They took a blood sample and the blood was tested in the Central Lab. Result: negative. Logically, the doctors discharged her on the 22nd December. She died three days later on the 25th. But since the result was negative, the family was sure it was NOT Ebola and invited family, friends and neighbours in order to bid farewell to her, as requested by local customs.
On the 27th neighbours started displaying the first symptoms. But it was not before the 2nd January that in the course of the Western Area Surge, a governmental mass social mobilization, it was discovered that more than 30 suspected cases had emerged in the said community. 28 already confirmed as positive.
This single case study illustrates how the fight against Ebola suffers from drawbacks again and again. One single mistake maybe a blood test got mixed up, maybe a test failed, maybe laboratory staff made a mistake and immediately 28 people are infected. Ebola does not forgive mistakes.
I twittered about that incident, which led to an interesting discussion.
Person wrongfully tested negatively and discharged put 120 people at risk as contact persons after welcoming party in Devil Hole #Ebola SL
— Ebola @ Sierra Leone (@ebola_in_SL) 2. Januar 2015
We from Welthungerhilfe immediately offered our support in form of food kits to the quarantined families in Devil Hole. On top of that, the community will be integrated into our own Social Mobilisation project in order to avoid another tragedy. The case illustrates that it is indeed necessary to insure that ALL dead are buried in a safe and dignified way. The risk is too high that a previous mistake causes more, avoidable deaths.
This article is an English translation by Julia. Find the original German article.