Ebola: lock­down at Malian hos­pi­tal

Doc­tor and 30 oth­ers are be­ing kept in quar­an­tine

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - SAPA-AFP

‘We’re not where we can be con­fi­dent we’re turn­ing a cor­ner’

ADOC­TOR at a clinic bat­tling Mali’s sec­ond Ebola out­break is sus­pected of hav­ing con­tracted the deadly virus, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, as about 30 peo­ple were locked in the quar­an­tined build­ing.

The peo­ple trapped in the Pas­teur Clinic in the cap­i­tal Bamako in­clude 15 African UN sol­diers be­ing treated for in­juries and TB, a se­cu­rity source said.

“A doc­tor who is a sus­pected case of Ebola is un­der ob­ser­va­tion be­cause he has been in con­tact with the two dead peo­ple, and we are search­ing for oth­ers who were around the de­ceased but re­turned home,” an of­fi­cial at the clinic said.

The of­fi­cial said the doc­tor was un­der ob­ser­va­tion at a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion near the cap­i­tal.

The gov­ern­ment called for calm as it con­firmed that a Guinean pa­tient thought to have brought Ebola into Mali and a 25-year-old Malian nurse who treated him – con­firmed as hav­ing con­tracted the virus – had died at the clinic, spark­ing a huge op­er­a­tion to stem the con­ta­gion.

Lo­cals said many pa­tients fled when the nurse’s death was an­nounced on Tues­day and had es­caped the quar­an­tine mea­sures.

“There are about 30 of us quar­an­tined in the clinic. There are doc­tors, pa­tients, 15 sol­diers from the UN mis­sion in Bamako. We don’t un­der­stand this iso­la­tion mea­sure… We have noth­ing to eat. It’s chaos, it’s a mess,” a doc­tor said.

Goita Sekou, 66, ar­rived in Bamako from Guinea 17 days ago by bus, and nurse Saliou Diarra treated her for kid­ney fail­ure at the pri­vate clinic, a med­i­cal source said. “At (Sekou’s) death, it was dis­cov­ered that two mem­bers of his fam­ily had died of Ebola. But he hid it,” said the source, although it has not been con­firmed that Sekou had Ebola.

The Health Min­istry said all mea­sures were be­ing taken to iden­tify peo­ple who had con­tact with the de­ceased.

“The premises of the pri­vate clinic and the pa­tient’s home have been com­pletely dis­in­fected and placed un­der ob­ser­va­tion,” is said.

Mean­while it was re­ported from Wash­ing­ton that health work­ers on the front­line of the Ebola cri­sis say the need for ur­gent help isn’t let­ting up, as Congress be­gins con­sid­er­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s $6.2 bil­lion (R70bn) emer­gency aid re­quest to fight the dis­ease.

De­spite re­ports that the num­ber of in­fec­tions is slow­ing in some parts of West Africa, cases are ris­ing in other ar­eas. Aid or­gan­i­sa­tions say thou­sands of health­care work­ers are needed to treat Ebola pa­tients over the next few months.

“We’re not yet at a point where we can have con­fi­dence that we’re turn­ing the cor­ner, even in Liberia,” said Andy Glea­dle of the In­ter­na­tional Med­i­cal Corps, which is run­ning a treat­ment cen­tre in Liberia and plans to open another in that coun­try and two more in Sierra Leone.

Even with in­creas­ing global at­ten­tion, it takes time to train new health work­ers, build field hos­pi­tals, and buy pro­tec­tive equip­ment for doc­tors and nurses.

Even if Obama were to give mil­lions of dol­lars to­mor­row, “it takes weeks to ab­sorb that fund­ing and im­ple­ment it on the ground”, said Glea­dle, who is re­spon­si­ble for the char­ity’s re­sponse in Sierra Leone.

The hear­ing comes even as Ebola is fad­ing from US head­lines.

The last Ebola pa­tient be­ing treated in the US – a doc­tor who was di­ag­nosed after re­turn­ing from a vol­un­teer stint fight­ing the virus in Guinea – was re­leased from a New York City hos­pi­tal on Tues­day. His fi­ancée re­mains in quar­an­tine at their flat. New York of­fi­cials con­tinue to mon­i­tor health work­ers who cared for him as well as other re­cent trav­ellers from West Africa. That “doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods”, an of­fi­cial cau­tioned. Un­til the epi­demic is ended in West Africa, “there is still the real pos­si­bil­ity that other peo­ple with Ebola will be di­ag­nosed in the US”.

There is bi­par­ti­san con­cern about Ebola and its threat to the US, and support for mil­i­tary and pub­lic health ef­forts at fight­ing the epi­demic in West Africa.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

ALERT: A po­lice of­fi­cer stands guard out­side the quar­an­tined Pas­teur Clinic in Bamako yes­ter­day. The Malian gov­ern­ment con­firmed the coun­try’s sec­ond case of Ebola on Tues­day.

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