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CEO’s Press Conference Statement – 21 October 2015

Welcome to today’s press conference. The flooding last week prevented us from meeting, but I am glad you all are safe and let me on behalf of the NERC extend my condolences to families who lost loved ones and properties as a result of the flooding. I have extended the NERC’s commitment and readiness to assist the Office of National Security in managing the emergencies emanated from the flood.

Today, I will speak about the EVD situation and the recent events in Bombali and Kambia Districts.Also, I will be making clear our support for survivors and their role in the response and most importantly I will be asking for your help to find missing contacts

Our fight against the Ebola Virus Disease faced a setback the past three weeks, with EVD positive cases first recorded in Kambia and then in Bombali District.

However, with a swift and robust response, what many feared a serious situation and possible major EVD outbreak in Kambia,has been limited to a few cases and the transmission chain is now largely under control. The casting out of a wide net in quarantine has proved to be the right decision and together with the vaccine, we have limited an otherwise dangerous EVD outbreak.

We are however, still very concerned that the missing contact Kadiatu Sinneh Kamara, the 32 year old niece of the index case is still unaccounted for. It is important we understand that this missing contact is not a criminal. She may be scared,confused and possibly quite sick. It is also possible that she does not understand how vital she is to the response. We are working very hard to find her and make sure she receives treatment, if she needs it and also to prevent her from transmitting the virus to others. If anyone has any informationas to the whereabouts of this lady please call your local DERC, or the police or even 117. It is very important that we find Kadiatu Sinneh Kamara as soon as possible and a reward of 5 million Leones will be paid to anyone who gives us information that allows us to find her. It is possible that she is not infected and it is also possible that she is now dead. Either way we need to know.

Kambia district has now gone for 12 consecutive days without recording an EVD positive case and we hope the situation in Kambia willcontinue to see progress as we make every effort to contain and eradicate this particular transmission chain.

Last Sunday, I was informed of a new EVD case in Robuya Village, Makarie Gbanti Chiefdom in the Bombali District. A 16 year old girl became symptomatic on September 07 and was later taken to a Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) in Patebana, Bombali District for treatment. The healthcare workers assessed her situation as critical and quite rightly decided to transfer her to the ETU in Mateneh for further evaluation. She arrived at the ETU on Saturday and she died in the early hours of Sunday morning September 13. Her swab and earlier blood samples both tested positive for EVD.

Despite initial reports circulated by some, especially in the media;let me categorically state here that the source of infection for this case has NOTyet been established by our investigators and experts.This particular case has generated so much controversy to a point that the Bombali District Council Chairman challenged the laboratory result in an open letter published by several media houses. For days, our Bombali DERC coordinator was under pressure from leaders of that district as to the authenticity of the lab result relating to this case. I had to lead a team of experts comprising the CDC, WHO, CJIATF, UNMEER and the lab pillar lead into Bombali to present the scientific and laboratory evidence from this case. Let me at this point clearly state that the people of Bombali had every right to challenge the case. It is understandable that no one wants Ebola in their backyards, but let me also plead with all of us that we let science dictate the response and not our emotions. What was turning into an ugly situation in Bombali between the local leaders and the DERC was put to rest by science and at the end of the day; everyone was satisfied with what the experts presented. Let me at this point thank all those leaders from the NERC who joined me in Makeni to address the stakeholders from that district.

Let me also at this point commend the Bombali DERC, the NERC and our partners for the swift response, which saw us quickly identify the initial contacts; quarantine households and communities; establish Voluntary Quarantine Facility (VQF) for the transfer of high risk contacts and began preparing the ground for the vaccine team.All families under quarantine received their first weekly food and non-food essentials yesterday and will continue to receive these items for the duration of their quarantine period.

Our thanks must also go to the small group of survivors that brought the young girl to the hospital and then took her to the ETU. Their actions prevented others from exposure to EVD and undoubtedly will have helped to limit the transmission of the virus. It is my fervent belief that the situation could have been much worse if these initial steps were not taken by the survivors, the DERC and our par

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