In the ongoing Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone has seen almost half of the total caseload, reporting more than 3,900 deaths. In the latest update on the epidemic, Sierra Leone's capital Freetown has suffered a fresh outbreak of Ebola, dashing hopes that health authorities in the densely-populated city of 1.2 million had beaten the deadly virus.
The government's National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) said, "Three cases had emerged in the east-end slum of Magazine Wharf, three weeks after the last known infections in the capital. Six people have been placed under observation since the first of the new cases, a casual laborer, tested positive on June 17, 2015."
Health authorities are concerned that the case could lead to a mini-outbreak in the overcrowded fishing community, which has poor sanitation and is regularly hit by outbreaks of malaria and cholera. They have blamed the failure of Sierra Leone and Guinea to eradicate the virus on people hiding deaths in the family and carrying out unsafe burials that are aiding Ebola's spread.
The World Health Organization said, "Weekly case incidence had stalled at between 20 and 27 since the end of May. New cases were continuing to arise from unknown sources of infection, and to be detected only after post mortem testing of community deaths, a key indication that the outbreak is not under control."
NERC chief executive Palo Conteh said, "The bumpy road to zero will continue to try our resolve and patience to the limit but I ask for your commitment and understanding while we head towards the final stage of this fight. Text books tell us that the last stages of any outbreak of this nature can be difficult and frustrating and I can confirm from personal experience that they are right."
Sierra Leone has also extended until September a nationwide state of emergency. The move restricts public gatherings and other activities that could spread the Ebola virus.