As of July 27, the West African nation of Sierra Leone has recorded 533 Ebola Virus Disease cases (473 confirmed, 38 probable, and 22 suspected) including 233 deaths. To put that in perspective, prior to the current West Africa EVD outbreak, the most cases reported in any Ebola outbreak was 425 (Uganda 2000-2001).
On Wednesday, Sierra Leone President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma addressed the nation concerning the Ebola situation, which included a few words about the passing and loss of Dr Shek Umar Khan and the announcement of a declaration of a State of Public Emergency.
Today, I ask the entire nation to mourn with the families of our national heroes includingDr. Shek Humarru Khan who lost their lives battling the Ebola outbreak in our country.
They were true patriots, paragons of service. We must win this fight in honor of their memory, and with prayers in our hearts, for all our compatriots who are victims of thisdeadly disease.
Since the outbreak, my government, in collaboration with development partners has continued to mobilize and deploy resources and expertise nationally and internationally to fight the disease.
I have been in contact with world leaders and global partners to meet the challenges; we have set up coordinating mechanisms with the World Health Organization and other international bodies; we set up an inter-ministerial committee to mobilize MDA support activities; trained and deployed hundreds of health workers, contact tracers and burial teams; and facilitated awareness raising on the disease by paramount chiefs, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, musicians, okada riders, market women, the media and ordinary citizens.
The disease is beyond the scope of any one country, or community to defeat. Its social, economic, psychological and security implications require scaling up measures at international, national, inter-agency andcommunity levels.
Extra-ordinary challenges require extra-ordinary measures. The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) poses an extra-ordinary challenge to our nation. Consequently, and in line with the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act Number 6 of 1991, I hereby proclaim a State of Public Emergency to enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak.
In order to continue to take direct control of the situation, I have cancelled my trip to the US-Africa Summit in the United States of America. On Friday, I will be travelling to Conakry, Guinea to meet with my colleague Heads of State of the Mano River Union to discuss our sub-regional strategies to defeat the disease.
We are launching a National Response Plan to inaugurate Phase Two of our fight against the disease. I also hereby establish a Presidential Task Force on Ebola which I will chair to champion the implementation of the following:
All epicenters of the disease will be quarantined;
The police and the military will give support to health officers and NGOs to do their workunhindered and restrict movements to and from epicenters;
Localities and homes where the disease is identified will be quarantined until cleared by medical teams;
Public meetings and gatherings will be restricted with the exception of essential meetings related to Ebola sensitization and education;
Active surveillance and house-to-house searches shall be conducted to trace and quarantine Ebola victims and suspects;
Parliament is recalled to promote MPs leadership at constituency levels;
Paramount chiefs are required to establish bye-laws that would complement other efforts to deal with the Ebola outbreak;
Mayors, chairmen of councils and councilors are hereby required to support Ebola control measures in their local government areas;
All deaths must be reported authorities before burial;
New protocols for arriving and departing passengers have been instituted at the Lungi International Airport;
Cancellation of all foreign trips by ministers and other government officials except absolutely essential engagements.
These measures will initially be implemented for a period of 60 to 90 days, and subsequent measures will be announced as and when necessary.
In addition, Government is establishing a special account for donations from corporate interests, organizations, the Diaspora and the general public to support the fight against Ebola.
I also hereby declare Monday August 4, 2014 aNational Stay at Home Day for FamilyReflection, Education and Prayers on the Ebola outbreak.
Fellow citizens, this is a national fight, and it behoves all of us to stand together to promote the truth about this deadly disease. Ebola is real, and we must stop its transmission. There have been over 130 survivors of the disease. There is hope that early detection of the virus in persons can boost their chances of survival. This is why it is very necessary to get those with the virus to treatment centers not only to prevent others from contracting the virus, but also increasing their own chances of survival.
Fellow citizens, Sierra Leone is in a great fight. We are a resilient people. And we must not fail. The sustainability of our actions for prosperity depends on winning this fight. Failure is not an option. We all need to come together to win this battle.
At 39 years, and the country’s only specialist in viral haemorrhagic fevers, Dr Shek Umar Khan could have landed a hugely lucrative job anywhere in the world. But he chose to return home to fight a medical war againstviral diseases.
A man from Port Loko district in the north, he put himself forward to go to the east to fight, initially, Lassa Fever knowing very well that his predecessor Dr Aniru Conteh had died of the Lassa Fever he had been saving others from. Dr Khan braved it. And when Ebola emerged, he was a General who commanded his troops from the frontline and not from the cosiness of his office.