An outbreak of Ebola in an area of Sierra Leone that had avoided cases of the deadly virus is raising fears of a new chain of infections. The people of Koindagu, located in Sierra Leone's rural north, were proud they had been free of Ebola, employing a quarantine of themselves in hopes of remaining so, according to the Guardian. But that has all changed.
On Tuesday, the Red Cross responded to the district's capital, Kabala, to collect the dead bodies of 30 suspected Ebola patients and bury them under medical protocols aimed at stopping the disease from spreading further during traditional burials, the Guardian reported. Sierra Leone -- which has seen 5,338 cases of Ebola and 1,510 deaths from the virus -- has become the face of the ongoing epidemic, as the rate of deaths in Liberia appears to have shown signs of slowing.
A Red Cross spokesman told the British newspaper that there were reportedly 25 more people sick with Ebola and 255 being monitored for the illness in Koindagu, and the country's national Ebola hotline says it is fielding reports of four cases per day from people in the district. The rapid spread of the disease within the district has raised alarms about the disease spreading further in the region, located on the border with Guinea, which is also struggling to battle Ebola.
While Koindagu appears to have lost its long battle to remain the last district untouched by Ebola in Sierra Leone, it it is something of a miracle that it made it this long in the first place.
Momoh Konte, a 43-year-old, American-educated businessman from Sierra Leone, is credited with being the face of that long-successful but ulimately doomed effort. Konte, who lives in Washington, D.C., flew to his home country in June to roll out a plan aimed at limiting the movement of Sierra Leonians living in his home district of Koindagu, according to the Washington Post.
Working with local leaders, he helped impose the quarantine that for months kept the people of Koindagu safe from the Ebola outbreak. But the virus had its way in the end, as it so often does.