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Welcome to today’s press conference. Today, I will speak about the overall EVD situation, the situation in Guinea, Safe and Dignified Burials in the Western Area and the rest of the country and what we all ought to be doing as we get closer to November 7 (D-Day).
I am pleased to inform you all that Sierra Leone has gone for six consecutive weeks without recording cases. This is a remarkable achievement in our fight against the EVD outbreak and as I have always stated in my past press conferences, we ought to be proud of ourselves for these achievements.
I am also pleased to announce to you that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, should the current trend continue, that November 7th will be the day they will declare the current outbreak over in Sierra Leone. That will mark 42 days since the last confirmed case tested twice negative on 25 September 2015. You will be informed of whatever form the program for that day will take once it is concluded, but be rest assured that the media will be with us on that day. You have been with us from the beginning and you will be with us till the end and beyond.
Let me however; hasten to remind the country that November 7 will only come to fruition if we continue to do the right things as a nation. We must continue calling 117 to report sickness and deaths in our households and communities, we must continue not touching nor washing dead bodies, we must continue to be vigilant in our communities and keep watching out for strangers visiting our communities, especially from areas where Ebola positive cases are still been recorded.
I have been informed by my team of the numerous concerns and frustrations from the public with regards delays in responding to calls made to 117 for services. I totally understand these concerns and frustrations from the general public and let me assure you that I will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the public get the services they deserve. I visited the 117 call centre yesterday to ascertain what the challenges are in responding to public requests and calls and I must say that the call centre is fully functional.
I will soon pay a visit to the Western Area command centre where dispatches are done to ascertain the reasons for the delay and how we can quickly amend it. Meanwhile, I still ask that we continue to call 117. This moment is crucial and we must all play our individual parts to help end this Ebola menace in our society.
I still ask that we continue with the Safe and Dignified Burial for all corpses in our country. Touching or washing dead bodies pose a risk of reversing the gains we have made. Contact with an Ebola positive corpse could cause an outbreak in this country again. We are just days away from this outbreak to be declared over in our country and it will be very disappointing and painful for us to start all over again because of silly behaviors by few people.
Though we have made tremendous strides in ending the outbreak in Sierra Leone, we still have a lot to do in neighboring Guinea if we are to rid the Mano River Union of Ebola. Last week, Guinea recorded three EVD positive cases, all from Forecariah; just across the borders from Kambia. This week they have recorded one so far.
This clearly shows the threat we continue to face as we journey on to 42 days and beyond. Guinea is our sister country, our ways of life, culture, and people are the same. Our people travel across the borders on a daily basis and even though we have had no evidence of cross infection from Guinea since Sierra Leone’s first index case, there is still need for us to remain vigilant together with our Guinean counterparts and keep a close eye on the situation there.
I have instructed the Kambia DERC in particular and all districts sharing borders with Guinea to increase screening measures for passengers travelling from and to Guinea. I have also instructed that the teams increase cross border collaboration with their counterparts in Guinea in order to keep the two countries safe and free from cross border infections and transmissions.
I am cautiously optimistic that we will successfully complete our national countdown to 42 days on November 7, but I must also remind us that we all have our individual roles to play to complete our pride as a nation. Journalists must continue to relay the messages calling for people to do the right things. Communities must continue to be watchful and vigilant in their neighborhoods and people must continue to call 117 to report sickness and deaths in their households and communities. We must not be complacent. We must not let down our guards. These are the right things that I ask we continue to do to complete our countdown.
Together we can and we will defeat Ebola!!!!!