Britain’s plan to defeat Ebola in Sierra Leone is working but will not be completed until every case has been tackled, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said today during a visit to the country.
UK-led efforts have prevented the exponential number of cases predicted by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and brought down dramatically the number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone to a fraction of its November peak.
But many cases prevail and just one infected individual has the potential to infect dozens more.
Underlining the UK’s ongoing support for the Sierra Leonean people, Greening met President Koroma, who told her that Britain’s humanitarian, medical and military response had been “the game changer” for his country.
Greening said: “Britain’s operation to defeat Ebola is on track. Ebola is being contained and thousands of Sierra Leonean lives have already been saved.
But while the numbers of Ebola cases are now at a fraction of what they were last Autumn many cases remain at large. The virus is so dangerous that we cannot rest until we are down to zero.
We will stay the course until the job is done and play a leading role in international efforts to ensure the global community can be better prepared for any future outbreaks.
Greening travelled today to Kambia province in northern Sierra Leone, to witness the efforts of British military and humanitarian experts working with local communities to track down the disease and stop it returning. In the capital Freetown this afternoon she also visited a UK-supported women’s care centre to see how health services are coping with Ebola while keeping essential services open and running.
The focus of British-led efforts is now contact tracing, with operatives tracking down people, particularly in remote areas, who may have come into contact with the disease and finding anyone who may have come into contact with them. This work is helping to contain the spread by anticipating the potential movement of the disease.
In the last week of November there were 537 new Ebola cases reported, while last week that number had fallen to 62.
Notes to Editors